So­lu­tion needed now

PIB dis­pute ap­pears to be headed to a court­room

Penticton Herald - - OPINION - —James Miller

And you thought Pen­tic­ton City Coun­cil has problems. It’s heart­break­ing to see what’s hap­pen­ing with the Pen­tic­ton In­dian Band as there’s an ob­vi­ous di­vide in the com­mu­nity, one that most band mem­bers have never seen in their lives.

While it’s re­ally none of our busi­ness (The Her­ald presently does not em­ploy any PIB mem­bers on staff although we re­cently had an ex­cep­tional editorial in­tern) it’s hard to sit back and see good peo­ple im­plod­ing be­fore our very eyes.

The is­sue ap­pears to be lead­er­ship. One side is call­ing for a new elec­tion while the other side be­lieves coun­cil has a quo­rum and the man­date to gov­ern.

We’re not on one side or the other, we’re on the side of the peo­ple.

It’s frus­trat­ing be­cause if we in­ter­viewed ev­ery band mem­ber in­di­vid­u­ally their No. 1 goal would be unan­i­mous — to see that their chil­dren en­joy a bet­ter way of life than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion. But it ends there. Ev­ery­body seems to have a dif­fer­ent opin­ion as to how the band should be gov­erned and what the pri­or­i­ties are for the re­serve.

The eas­i­est thing to do would be for Chief Chad Eneas and the re­main­ing coun­cil­lors to re­sign and call a new elec­tion. From there, he and the oth­ers should be el­i­gi­ble to run if they wish. If their man­date is strong, they will be re-elected.

But, on the other side, there is some ev­i­dence to sug­gest that Eneas and the other coun­cil­lors don’t have to. So why should they?

The chief and coun­cil­lors were not present at a three-hour nom­i­na­tion meet­ing on Wed­nes­day but in an un­usual twist, lo­cal me­dia was in­vited. We are sel­dom al­lowed at band coun­cil meet­ings.

Some­where there has to be a com­pro­mise. Could an in­de­pen­dent me­di­a­tor come in and talk to both sides, some­one like West­bank First Na­tion Chief Robert Louie or Osoy­oos In­dian Band Chief Clarence Louie? Would the City of Pen­tic­ton lend them Peter Wee­ber and JoAnne Kleb for a few weeks to try and straighten things out?

Im­me­di­ate ac­tion needs to be taken be­cause, frankly, noth­ing’s get­ting done.

Af­ter build­ing a bridge and cre­at­ing their own in­dus­trial park the squab­bling can’t be good for busi­ness. It’s also an un­friendly at­mos­phere, one that the chil­dren must find tense.

There’s no real hero or vil­lain in this story, again, they’re all good peo­ple, all with good in­ten­tions. The way things are go­ing is in­evitable.

The elec­tion dis­pute will end up in a court­room with lawyers on both sides giv­ing their in­ter­pre­ta­tion of laws and gov­er­nance mod­els and the only peo­ple who will ben­e­fit at the end of the day will be... the lawyers.

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