Manipulation of Provincial Elections in Northern Saskatchewan

Summary

The event concerns the first provincial elections that First Nations people could vote in, beginning in 1960. The interviews obtained focus on Northern Saskatchewan. As per Gwen Beck: “And there was a lot of, there was always quite a bit of liquor in those days, you know, involved in it.” To which the interviewer, Murray Dobbin asks the question “: So people would try and get votes by buying drinks?” Gwen responds by saying that many people who went to the polls were intoxicated, but does not outright say that the parties in the election had bought votes with alcohol. She also explains that there were rumours of cash being exchanged for votes, but that this could not be proven. Another source corroborates this event by saying that: “And there was no doubt about it that there was an awful lot of liquor that seemed to appear from nowhere just the night before. And the same thing in the other communities, that cases of doughnuts would go into communities and cases of doughnuts have never gone in before nor since. And voting would turn around as to what you'd expect.” These words come from an interview with Glen Lindgren. The testimonial regarding doughnuts, can be seen as a form of bribery. This indicates a disparity between Northern and Southern Saskatchewan relating to economic development, food insecurity and access to goods. This disparity has been created by colonial practices, and in this context, was used to manipulate the democratic process.---------------------La Ronge resident Verna Richards corroborates stories of political corruption in Northern Saskatchewan, specifically La Ronge. She reports that the Liberal party tried to gain votes through deception. After this became less effective, the Liberal party escalated to obtaining votes through coercion by threatening loss of jobs and plying residents with alcohol. The Liberal party also distributed wildly inaccurate rumours about the consequences of voting for the NDP, stating that the NDP would apprehend the children of residents and, being associated with socialism and therefore with atheistic communism, would burn down churches and even homes that contained religious iconography or paraphernalia. It should be noted that Indigenous people were in a position of vulnerability as they had only recently been given voting rights by the Canadian state - this resulted from a lack of information provided by Elections Canada or any other governing body relating to the employment of a private ballot within Canada's democratic system. Ms. Richards also notes characteristics of racism and sexism within political parties in the area, including both the Liberals and the CCF, describing the exclusion of one Indigenous woman who had engaged in extensive campaigning for the CCF. The exclusion of Indigenous women from politics results in the exclusion of their voices at the political table, as well as issues that affect women, such as domestic violence and sexual assault (of which the latter was prevalent in La Ronge - please see related entry). She reports these events as happening around 1967.

Implications
The implication of this event extends to the integrity of the democratic process. That is, the democratic process was corrupted by party officials who engaged in bribery, deception and coercion. Political parties (particularly the provincial Liberal party) took advantage of a lack of access to goods and services, and also used the lack of knowledge of Indigenous people relating to the privacy of the ballot to their advantage. It is also highly likely that the propaganda related to the NDP/CCF regarding the propensity of the party to destroy churches and homes was particularly damaging given the lack of housing/poor housing conditions on La Ronge reserve. There may also have been a potential lack of social/community supports due to colonial policy's tendency to cause community fragmentation - causing the loss of a community centre such as a church to be particularly threatening. It should also be noted that the imposition of colonial policy in Northern Saskatchewan also disadvantaged communities through regulation of hunting, fishing and trapping, resulting in severe disruptions to Indigenous economic stability as well as poverty. This would likely have made promises of provision of material goods should the party be elected particularly enticing - taking advantage of the diminished socioeconomic position of members of these communities.
Date
1960-00-00
Community

Provincial Voting Rights Granted to Aboriginal People

Summary

A resolution was passed in the provincial legislature to universally grant the right to vote to Aboriginal people, despite the fact that Aboriginal leaders had not granted their approval.

Implications
Premier Douglas recognized that he had broken his promise not to grant the vote without the agreement of Aboriginal people, but sided with the legislative majority instead.
Date
1960-03-11
Community
Documents
File
File Description
Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan Debates. 4th session. 13 legislature. 11 March, 1960

Extension of Voting Rights

Summary

The right to vote was extended to all Aboriginal people, under the condition that they gave up their tax-exempt Indian status. Meaning, that any person who was "non-status" was eligible to vote, however, barriers to accessing the vote still remained. Universal enfranchisement for First Nations people was granted in 1960.

Implications
From the 1960's forward, Indigenous peoples, status or non-status, on reserve or off reserve, were given the right to vote. Beforehand, rules regarding the enfranchisement of Indigenous peoples excluded those with status, or the individual would have to relinquish their status in order to enfranchise. Afterwards, all Indigenous peoples were eligible to vote, and were not forced to give up their "Indian status."
Date
1950-00-00
Community

Extension of Voting Rights

Summary

The right to vote was extended in 1920 to Indigenous people living off-reserve and those who had fought in the Canadian army, navy, or air force - regardless of whether they were on or off-reserve.

Implications
Only those who were considered more 'civilized' were given the right to vote, as government officials considered them more likely to support Euro-Canadian government initiatives and the assimilation of Indigenous people.
Date
1920-00-00
Community

Conservative Government Returns to Power in 1878

Summary

The Conservatives under the leadership of John A. MacDonald defeated Alexander Mackenzie’s Liberals, returning to power in 1878. Their platform promoted the implementation of a Canadian National Policy, which was highlighted by a strong promotion of solidifying the Canadian border in the West through increased settlement and agricultural development of the region.

Implications
In the Pursuit of this National Policy the Conservatives undertook the systematic “pacification” of the plains Indians to promote the government’s program of development.
Sub Event
Implications of the National Policy on Aboriginal Peoples
Date
1878-00-00

Aboriginal Women Not Allowed to Vote

Summary

According to the Indian Act, Aboriginal women could neither vote nor be elected to band counsels until the Act was amended in 1951. The vote for Aboriginal women came roughly 33 years after suffrage was granted to white settler women within Canada in all provinces exempting Quebec (1940).

Implications
Aboriginal women were removed from the political sphere of band life, and lost much of the status they had held within their communities prior to the introduction of this rule. As such, the Canadian Government continued to enact their goal of assimilation by institutionally attempting to remove Aboriginal women's political capacity and influence.
Date
1876-00-00
Community