Statement of good faith of Chief John Wesley
November 17, 2017
My Unlawful Suspension
As you have likely heard, on November 10, 2017 I was given a letter from Council suspending me until February 1, 2018.
The suspension procedure requires a notice to me from Council of the Nation with a written description of the alleged infraction and an opportunity to respond to the allegations (Code of Ethics, paragraph 2.10.2). I have received no notice from Council that they were considering a suspension, and have been given no opportunity to respond to Chief and Council. I seem to have been suspended because it is alleged that I did not answer questions – which I did in fact answer.
The meeting suspending me was not a duly convened meeting. Only a Chief or the “superintendent” can summons a meeting (Band Council Procedure Regulations paragraph 4). Neither called the meeting. Also, there was no quorum because the Chief was not there (as required by the Code of Ethics, paragraph 10.1). The suspension was invalid. Some councillors are misusing rules for a political attack on me by alleging false allegations against me. They suspended me without notice of this intention and without telling me what I had to respond to. Is this the kind of leadership we need?
I have not breached any fiduciary duty. I have acted honestly, in good faith and without any conflict of interest. Councillors, at last, said that I breached my duty because I signed two cheques that were due and owing as a result of contracts with SFN.
In May 2015, Ms. Jennifer Trotti, a lawyer, was working with SFN to assist in Human Resource matters and legal structures.
On June 22, 2015 we needed an Executive Director to implement the directions of Chief and Council. The Chief and other Councillors met with Ms. Trotti in Parksville. At that meeting, we were told that Mr. James Wilson could act as an interim Executive Director to SFN as a contractor (for 2 months and with limited hours). On June 22nd, 2015 in the evening, at a duly convened meeting of Chief and Council the agreement was approved. James Wilson accepted the contract position. Mr. Wilson made it clear to the Council that he was to be a contractor, because he was employed elsewhere and that if he was dismissed early, he would have to be paid the full contract amount.
On June 24th, 2015 an agreement prepared by the lawyer, Ms. Trotti, was signed by myself and Mr. Wilson. Paragraph 1 of the Agreement said “The Employer shall be represented by the Chief John Wesley for the purpose of negotiating and executing this Agreement”. The majority of the Council had given me that authority. The Agreement was for him to be paid $25,000 for his services for two months, but it said he was an employee. I did not understand that it was not an agreement for a “contractor” when I signed the Agreement. Mr. Wilson was initially paid $5,000 in accordance with the Agreement, and he started work.
On July 6th, 2015 I was informed by Mr. Wilson that the Agreement signed on June 24th, 2015 was fundamentally wrong because it was not for a “contractor” and did not include the term that he had to be paid the full amount if he was terminated early.
I had been given authority by the majority of Council to “negotiate and execute” the terms of the agreement and signed the Agreement on July 6th, 2015. That new Agreement properly set out the terms of the agreement. I signed the Agreement pursuant to my authority for the best interests of the Nation, and that was the agreement. Mr. Wilson was not a friend, and had never been to my house or met my children. He was shown no favoritism.
Mr. Wilson had hired Marjorie Reid on contract to organize the finance department. It was in complete disarray. Mr. Wilson acted within the powers of the Executive Director on behalf of the Nation as appended to the July 6th, 2015 Agreement.
I had read the Agreement with Marjorie Reid and I was clear that the terms included a payment of $5,000 to her.
On July 14th, 2015 James Wilson and Marjorie Reid were dismissed. Ms. Trotti, the lawyer for SFN, informed Mr. Wilson and Ms. Reid they were entitled to their final cheque. I was presented with cheques for the final payment of the contracts for each of them. SFN’s legal obligation was to pay $15,000 to James Wilson and $5,000 to Marjorie Reid. This payment was owed by the Band in accordance with the contract, and was not a severance payment.
The cheques were presented to me by the then Executive Director. This was standard protocol. I signed the cheques because the Nation was legally obligated to pay those amounts. The standard protocol is that two councillors are to sign the cheques as a safety precaution. Another Councillor signed the cheques.
I acted in the best interests of the SFN. I signed the cheques because SFN legally had to pay by reason of the contract. The Nation had dismissed four Executive Directors and was in disarray and I prevented any future lawsuits and the untold legal costs which would likely have exceeded $20,000 if the cheques were not signed.
Misconduct by Erralyn Thomas and Other Councillors
Erralyn Thomas and some Councillors have hired a lawyer to investigate/review for the purpose of making and finding concerning issues surrounding:
a. Two cheques issued by the Nation in an around July 2015;
b. The deposit of approximately 1 million dollars from the company into the Nation’s bank account; and
c. Any other financial issues.
Erralyn Thomas has caused $100,000 of the Nation’s money to be spent for her own political agenda to attack me. The investigators have only investigated me, and have failed to investigate or report on any of the facts related to the wrongful deposit of over 1 million dollars. Why is this?
Our people’s $100,000 has been wasted on a smear campaign against me which has no truth to it. The money has been spent to the political benefit of certain Councillors’.
They are the ones who have breached their duty to the Nation. They have not had investigated the serious problem in the Finance Department of the Nation.
Why would a $20,000 payout of contracts made in good faith be more important than a 1 million dollar missing deposit? I suggest that there is only one answer. It is all part of their political agenda.
No Authority to Engage the Investigator/Lawyer
At an unauthorized meeting of the Council, not properly summonsed and without a quorum, the same members of the Council of the First Nation approved the Band Council Resolution for the investigator role.
The resolution made was unlawful and is void. Again, the Councillors have breached our rules to ensure fairness and transparency.
The Investigators Findings are Unfair
The investigator did not ask for a complete written statement from me, but asked specific questions that presumed wrongdoing. My lawyer answered the questions.
On November 2, 2017 the investigator wrote to the Council saying that my conduct breached the terms of the Accountability and Conflict of Interests sections 2.4, 2.5 and 2.10 of the Code of Ethics. I was never told these matters were being considered. The investigator says I failed to answer questions and that was suspicious after I answered them. The investigator has not even told me how there was an alleged conflict of interest, or how I supposedly breached the rules.
Not only that, the investigator offered to meet with me on November 21st, 2017 and I was suspended before the meeting took place.
The process is fundamentally unfair, and contrary to the spirit of our rules which were made to ensure fairness and safety. It can only be concluded that the investigator is part of the political agenda of my political opponents.
The Financial Department
When Marjorie Reid and James Wilson were employed, I asked them to find out why nearly 1 million dollars’ worth of cheques written from forest companies had not been deposited into the correct accounts. It was discovered that a $700,000 cheque had been forgotten in an employee’s desk drawer, with pencils. Other cheques totalling many hundreds of thousands of dollars had been left in a safe! Further, the Financial Department had deposited almost 1 million dollars in the SFN Operating account instead of the Economic Development Corporation account. To this date the Band still owes a great deal of that money back to the Economic Development Corporation.
Why has the investigation not addressed these important issues? I suggest because it does not help some Councillors’ political agenda.
This is Why
It is obvious that the suspension is designed to cast doubt on my integrity so that my rivals Erralyn Thomas and Mike Wyse are free to campaign unopposed in the quickly approaching election. My rivals will probably tell you that I have breached my fiduciary duty to you and broken your trust. That is a lie. Will those same Council members tell you that at the same meeting where the Band administrator was hired, Erralyn Thomas was directed by BCR not to speak anymore on SFN’s behalf due to a written formal written complaint against her and her conduct? This resolution was passed unanimously. Will they tell you that Paul Wyse was suspended for
I paid the contracts out because SFN was legally obligated to and it would spare SFN from yet another wrongful dismissal (breach of contract) lawsuit and untold legal costs for defending a rash decision by the Council to terminate another administrator.
I did not breach any duties to my Nation.
Certain factors must be proven when it comes to breach of fiduciary duty. First of all a breach of fiduciary duty must actually have taken place and the breach of fiduciary duty must have caused damage. I did the right thing and did my fiduciary duty for my People.
As your elected Chief, I do not make promises that I cannot keep and will follow through with my promises. I believe that you have expected these values in me as your elected Chief. I treated the two contractors according to the SFN’s legal obligations. I stand by my integrity and honour as did our ancestors for our people. In my time as Chief I have worked tirelessly to lift my people up. I have built strong relationships with our external partners. Our Nation was just able to disburse funds to our members, we recently made a settlement with the City of Nanaimo, our timber project is doing very well; and my business acumen and integrity played a key role in all those successes. I am counting on you to see through what is wrongfully being done to me and for you to vote for me on December 2nd.
With dedicated love and commitment,
Chief John Wesley