Liard chief suspendedRemoval comes after $250,000 lawsuit alleging Harry Deneron interfered in contract
Northern News Services
Updated Monday, March 27, 2017
ACHO DENE KOE/FORT LIARD
Acho Dene Koe First Nation has voted to suspend Chief Harry Deneron after two band-owned businesses filed a $250,000 lawsuit against him, alleging he is working against them in their bid to renew contract work for airport and highway maintenance in the Fort Liard area.
Band councillor Sonia Timbre said the vote was upheld by the majority of the band's council members.
"We have lost confidence (in him) for a variety of reasons," she said.
"(He) was not acting in the best interest of the band."
The vote took place on March 9, a week after ADK Holdings Ltd. and Beaver Enterprises accused Deneron in a lawsuit filed in NWT Supreme Court of breaching his fiduciary duty toward them.
Timbre didn't specify whether there were other reasons leading to Deneron's suspension.
"The band council members' responsibility is to all of the band members, and not to a select few," she said.
The lawsuit's statement of claim alleges Deneron dissuaded the territorial government from renewing a contract with Beaver Enterprises, a construction company, and putting the contract out for competition instead. The other plaintiff in the case, ADK Holdings Ltd., is a development corporation whose subsidiaries operate on behalf of the First Nation.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Beaver Enterprises first obtained the airport and highways contract in 2006, which was renewed in 2012.
In October 2016, Beaver Enterprises claims it discussed extending that contract and was told by the GNWT there would be no issues. But on Feb. 8, 2017, the company states it was told the government would instead be putting the contract out to tender.
The statement of claim alleges ADK and Beaver Enterprises were told by a GNWT representative that Deneron "advised verbally" that he was in support of the contract going out to tender instead of being extended.
It further alleges that the chief expressed "various levels of support" for two other companies interested in the contract, including Blue Mountain Enterprises, a company that Deneron has a financial interest in, according to the claim.
The claim alleges Deneron failed to support Beaver Enterprises and "arranged his personal affairs in such a manner as to benefit (himself) financially to the detriment of the plaintiffs."
Neither Deneron nor Beaver Enterprises could be immediately reached for comment. Information on the tender in question was not available at press time.