The Métis National Council (MNC) is launching a multi-million dollar lawsuit against a number of former officials and companies that were associated with them and the national organization.
Named in the suit are its former president Clément Chartier, former MNC official and current Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) President David Chartrand, former MNC official Wenda Watteyne, the MMF itself, and several consultants and staff associated with the organization.
“MNC’s claims arise from a scheme perpetrated by each of Chartier, Chartrand, MMF and Watteyne in the Province of Ontario to intentionally cause severe financial harm and other injury to MNC, and to correspondingly benefit, among others, themselves, upon their departures from MNC in the summer of 2021,” says the statement of claim filed in an Ontario court Thursday.
Chartier led the MNC as president from 2003 before resigning in 2021. Chartrand has been involved with the MNC since 1997 in various forms. He also left the organization in 2021.
After Chartier left the MNC in September 2021, it was announced that he was hired by the MMF to act as the ambassador on international and inter-nation relationships for a “new government” the MMF was forming.
Current MNC President Cassidy Caron, who was elected in September 2021, posted on Facebook that the claim was filed after an extensive review of the organization.
“For many years, each of Chartier, Chartrand and Watteyne were in de facto control of MNC’s affairs,” the statement of claim says. “During a COVID pandemic that arose in early 2020 and remained throughout 2021, Chartier, Chartrand and Watteyne were able to exploit that control and thereby conduct MNC’s affairs in breach of their statutory and common law duties, and in contravention of MNC’s bylaws, customs, policies and practices, which were designed to provide checks and balances and to safeguard MNC’s rights, interests and stakeholders.”
The MNC is claiming that Chartier, Chartrand, MMF and Watteyen “breached their fiduciary duty” and “unlawfully conspired” against the MNC prior to their departure, “recognizing that MMF would now purportedly be in competition with MNC in terms of having paramount status and authority to represent and speak on behalf of Canada’s Metis Nation,” the claim says.
The claim alleges “the purported assignment of the Metis Veterans Recognition Payment Contribution Agreement between MNC and Her Majesty in Right of Canada… from MNC to the defendant, Manitoba Metis Federation Inc. carrying on business as Manitoba Metis Federation, including the transfer to MMF and conversion of approximately $9 million dollars in trust funds advanced by the Canadian government.”
It also alleges that officials named in the suit allowed severance packages of “approximately $800,000 to Storm Russell, Krista Monette, “Watteyne and/or Chartier upon their respective departures.”
“The excessive or inappropriate spending of MNC funds for benefits and gifts to themselves, to non-arm’s length third parties, and to associates and colleagues of Chartier, Chartrand, MMF and Watteyne, including: (i) excessive or inappropriate remuneration and other amounts paid to Chartrand’s wife, Glorian Chartrand and/or “Ryley James”; and (ii) a gold watch that cost approximately $4,000, which was approved by both Chartrand and Watteyne and then provided to Chartier as a “retirement gift” at a private “retirement dinner” in or about August of 2021… none of which was disclosed to or approved by the governing members of MNC (other than MMF).”
The MNC is asking the court to grant $15,000,000 in damages against “Chartier, Chartrand, and Wayyeyne, including the “MMF’s knowing assistance or knowing receipt of the benefits of those breaches.
“The Scheme was perpetrated by each of Chartier, Chartrand, MMF and Watteyne in order to benefit themselves and MMF at the expense and to the prejudice of MNC,” says the claim.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
APTN News reached out to Chartier, Chartrand, the MMF and Watteyne for comment.
According to MMF spokesperson Kim Patenaude, “We just received this statement of claim this afternoon and after a quick review, we can immediately see that the claim is an act of vindictiveness and an attempt to cause harm to the reputation of the MMF and President Chartrand, and MNC past-President Clement Chartier. It is clear that many of the statements and claims made have no basis in law or factual accuracy.
“This action is disappointing but not surprising, and the claims made utterly ignore the fact that the MNC was left in a surplus state by past-President Clement Chartier and Minister of Finance David Chartrand. It is unfortunate that this is one of the first acts the MNC has chosen in spending that surplus, rather than funneling funds to the Citizens who rely on programs and services. We look forward to having the details and actual facts brought forward on public record.”
APTN was not able to reach Watteyne or Chartier for comment.
Read the full Statement of Claim here: