The Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) has yet to file a statement of defence in a multi-million dollar lawsuit in which the Métis National Council (MNC) alleges the MMF caused it serious financial harm.
The lawsuit filed on Jan. 27 in Ontario Superior Court, alleges that in the lead-up to the MMF’s departure from the MNC just before the MNC election last fall, the defendants “embarked upon a scorched earth policy to intentionally cause financial harm and other injury to MNC, recognizing that MNC and MMF would now be competing to be the legitimate or recognized authority and voice of the Métis Nation going forward.”
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
The statement of claim alleges:
- $9 million from the $30 million Métis Veterans Fund Contribution Agreement was transferred to the MMF, breaching MNC bylaws.
- Over a million dollars was wrongfully disbursed as lump sum payments to various consulting firms.
- $800,000 was wrongfully given as severance payments to departing staff and inappropriate amounts of gifts were also given to spouses, colleagues and associates.
- an archival and genealogical database belonging to the MNC was transferred to the MMF without board member approval.
- a seven-year lease was signed for an MNC office in Ottawa at a higher-than-market rent, being paid to a landlord whose shareholders are associated with the MMF.
The MNC is seeking $15 million in damages, and another $1 million in punitive damages, as well as other forms of restitution, according to the statement of claim.
The defendants had 40 days to file a statement of defence after being served, unless an intent to defend was filed, which then allows an extra 10 days to submit a full statement of defence.
All but one of the 16 defendants — which includes individuals and companies — filed an intent to defend notice between Feb. 28 and March 31. Former MNC executive director Wenda Watteyne was the only defendant who did not.
The MNC has not yet filed the documents to start the process of a default judgment, meaning defendants would have no further time to file their statements of defence. In a default judgment, the defendants would by default admit the allegations.
Neither the MNC nor the MMF would comment, saying the matter is still before the courts.
Watteyne could not be reached for comment.
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