Solution needed now
PIB dispute appears to be headed to a courtroom
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.