By Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The Manitoba Metis Federation (MMF) has filed a statement of defence against allegations of financial wrongdoing that were made in a recently filed lawsuit, and MMF’s president is once again going on the attack against the organization that filed the suit.
“The MNC (Metis National Council) action is nothing more than a publicity stunt weaponizing the courts for political theatre, and we expect to see this action dismissed,” MMF President David Chartrand said in a media release announcing that MMF had filed their official statement of defence on Thursday for a lawsuit filed by the MNC back in January.
On Jan. 27, the MNC, an organization that was formed in 1983 to advocate for the Metis federally, filed a statement of claim accusing the MMF of various financial improprieties and seeking $16 million in damages from 11 defendants.
Named in the suit are Chartrand, who is a former MNC official, as well as former MNC president Clement Chartier, former MNC official Wenda Watteyne, and the entire MMF organization, and it makes allegations of deals MNC claims were made to financially benefit those named in the lawsuit and others.
The lawsuit, which was filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, also asks that the court freeze MMF’s funds and investment accounts on an interim basis and the MNC said they are seeking $1 million of the $16 million because of “aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages.”
Chartrand had been involved with the MNC for more than two decades in a number of roles before leaving the organization in 2021, and Chartier was president of MNC from 2003, before resigning in 2021.
But a growing dispute between MMF and MNC had been brewing for months, when in September of 2021, Chartrand suddenly pulled MMF out of MNC, and at the time said the departure was because MNC was allowing membership into the organization of people with invalid or questionable claims to **>Metis<** citizenship.
Chartrand has said in the past that he believes that the lawsuit is an attempt to tarnish the image of both him and MMF. He also went on the offensive about the lawsuit and MNC.
“The allegations contained in the statement of claim are scandalous, vexatious, baseless, and meant to attack and discredit the MMF, the MNC’s former staff, and me, in order to enhance the standing and influence of the MNC’s newly-elected administration,” Chartrand said.
“The MMF was the central pillar of the MNC since its creation, completely aligned with the national body on a set of core principles and objectives; a strong Metis Nation, an enduring distinct national identity, the integrity of citizenship in the
Metis Nation, and a national homeland in western Canada.”
Chartrand also said this week he continues to be confident that MNC’s lawsuit will fail in court.
“The MNC lawsuit against MMF and me does not advance any legitimate legal complaint,” he said. “The MMF will continue to carry out its responsibilities as the national government of the Red River Metis, confident that this vexatious claim will be dismissed by the courts.”
The Winnipeg Sun has reached out to the MNC for comment.
– Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.