The man at the centre of a whirlwind of controversy on Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation says he wants his side to come out.
Until now, ousted urban councillor Warren McCallum has stayed out of the media coverage on a petition that makes serious allegations against him. He’s also stayed quiet on his removal from office late last week.
After reviewing the petition, which has hundreds of signatures, PBCN’s Elder’s Council decided to remove urban councillor Warren McCallum from his position. Soon after, Chief Peter Beatty acted on that decision.
In both the petition and some media coverage of the views of some of his urban members, McCallum’s been accused of misappropriating funds, failing to provide a criminal record check, and failing to perform the duties he was elected to.
He says he found out about all this about a month ago. One of those allegations related to a criminal record check, which is required of all candidates.
“That’s the thing, those are false accusations that people started saying that I have a criminal record and that’s how that petition started,” he said in an interview with MBC News.
McCallum disputes the petition’s complaints, and says they weren’t brought up at previous opportunities.
“Even for this petition, it was from one complaint to another to another to another. Those were complaints that should have been dealt with in a local community meeting which I always had,” he said.
But he says people weren’t showing up to those meetings.
The reasons behind the Elder’s Council decision to remove McCallum have not been made public, but he has a letter that explains them. McCallum said he does not agree with the grounds of his dismissal.
Not only is he upset – he’s retained legal counsel.
His lawyer Kimberly Stonechild says McCallum was doing the opposite of misspending, that he was working to bring about greater accountability.
McCallum says he had received extra funds because the funds his office receives aren’t based on the actual number of urban members they support. He says the urban office receives a percentage of PBCN funds, and this number hasn’t budged despite an influx in urban membership.
Stonechild explains further what McCallum says he was doing related to that spending to make it more accountable.
“There was a policy put in place that they would help members on medicals and funerals and that was called an emergency fund and that was to put accountability into place for the whole council to follow so that people weren’t getting extra and over funds for travel or for anything like that,” Stonechild said.
She explained why McCallum took her on as legal counsel.
“Mr. McCallum, with respect to that, he’s currently weighing his legal options to determine whether or not the decision of the Elders Council should be backed by a band resolution,” she said.
He’s considering civil litigation over constructive dismissal and wrongful dismissal.
McCallum explained why he’s speaking out now.
“I wanted to thank my supports. I’ve been getting a lot of support from my friends and family, the people that voted me in as urban councillor. They’ve been asking me to go public and also and do it the legal way,” he said.
He said he’s concerned about how recent events have affected people’s views of his character.
“It takes a toll on me and my family and it’s very devastating that I have to go through this with me and my family,” McCallum said, his voice catching as he spoke.