Lower Kootenay Band Chief Jason Louie (Photo submitted)

LKB case referred back to arbitrator

In what seems to be the Lower Kootenay Band version of The Neverending Story, a federal court judge has referred a decision made by arbitrator Marko Vesely last year back to him for review.

The issue, which has been subject to numerous court filings by LKB member Wayne Louie and his nephew, Rob Louie Jr., dates back to 2009. After negotiating a $125,000 settlement with the Regional District of Central Kootenay for the use of a road, the Band Council members, lead by Chief Chris Luke Sr., awarded themselves $5,000 one-time payments for past services on behalf of the LKB.

Vesely ordered the recipients to repay the $5,000, but did not set a time frame. Earlier this year, Wayne Louie won a court judgment that ordered the recipients to make arrangements for scheduled repayments. Couns. Carole Louie had already started making payments by that time, she said last month. Chief Louie has since repaid the sum in full, he said on Monday.

Judge J. Manson ruled in a May 28 finding that Vesely must revisit his decision that the 2009 Band Councillors had not broken their Oath of Office or breached their fiduciary duties, and provide reasons.

“Given my decision on the unreasonableness of the Arbitrator’s decision concerning the Oath of Office and breach of fiduciary duty, this matter should be referred back to the Arbitrator for reconsideration in accordance with this decision and reasons for the decision,” Manson wrote.

“Although the Chief is my brother, this wasn’t personal,” Rob Louie Jr. said last week. “It just so happened that the Chief is my brother, and he did something legally and morally wrong. If we didn’t hold Chief Jason Louie legally accountable, we would have essentially co-signed his illegal action. In spite of it all, I have made repeated requests to my Band Council for a unity dinner and meeting. However, these requests have been spurned by my Band Council.”

Wayne Louie has called for Chief Louie’s immediate resignation from the Band Council, but Chief Louie says he will stay on.

“Prior to the arbitration hearing both parties understood that his ruling would be final,” he said on Monday. “The matter some how went to judicial review and is once again in the hands of the arbitrator. I have a job to do and people depend on me to do my job. I will continue to do my job until such time the arbitrator may say otherwise.”

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