Cold Lake First Nations (CLFN) band councillor Kelsey Jacko is opposing his possible removal from council after being sentenced to a conditional discharge.
Jacko pled guilty to possession with the purpose of trafficking in December after search warrant led police to over two pounds of marijuana in his home.
Cold Lake RCMP executed the search warrant on Nov. 19, 2015, where they seized the marijuana, drug trafficking paraphernalia, and $1,710 in cash.
Jacko was sentenced to a two-year conditional discharge and a 10-year firearm's prohibition after he pled guilty to the charge on Dec. 13, 2017 at the St. Paul Provincial Courthouse.
As a result, CLFN's legal representative Witten LLP contacted Jacko's defence lawyer Danielle Boisvert, with information indicating the sentence meant Jacko would be unable to remain on council, Boisvert told the Regional.
“I've received a copy of their original opinion, and it was incorrect. They assumed a conditional discharge is a conviction, while it isn't. That's the main issue as far as I understand it,” explained Boisvert.
CLFN election law states any councillor convicted of a crime must step down from council.
Under section 730 of the Criminal Code of Canada, a conditional discharge can be handed out instead, which doesn't represent a conviction in itself.
“The laws are quite specific that upon a conviction he must step down from his position. That specific wording in the election laws is part of what caused Jacko to accept the proposed plea agreement. Because it's not a conviction, they can't use that law to remove him,” detailed Boisvert.
Despite the development, CLFN council could still attempt to remove Jacko through section 17(e) of their election law, which constitutes removal for ‘misconduct reflecting on the dignity and conduct of council.'
This has been brought up previously, when CLFN resident Welsey Jacknife appealed Jacko's nomination to council because he was charged under the controlled drug and substances act.
Cold Lake First Nations Elections Appeal Committee dismissed the appeal on the grounds that Jacko was innocent until proven guilty.
According to Boisvert, in the event CLFN pursues this avenue, Jacko hopes to be given the chance to present his side of the story to council.
Without speaking on Jacko's behalf, Boisvert explained he could point out CLFN's participation in recent meetings on finding ways to benefit from the legalization of marijuana.
Boisvert further explained Jacko would have Honourable Judge Ivan Ladouceur's admission that the crown had no direct evidence he had the intention of trafficking the drugs.
“If the band council itself is going to all of these meetings and seeking a way to profit from legalization, it seems a little bit inconsistent for them to turn to Jacko and say, what you did three years ago is wrong, and therefore we're going to kick you off,” said Boisvert.
Witten LLP and CLFN were unavailable for comment. The Regional also reached out to Jacko through his legal council but did not receive a comment.