A B.C. grand chief charged with sex crimes dating back to the 1970s has pleaded not guilty to all counts against him.
Grand Chief Edward John did not appear in court on Wednesday, his 71st birthday, but his lawyer entered the plea on John’s behalf by phone.
John is facing four counts of sexual intercourse with a female without consent.
Prosecutors have said the alleged offences concern a single individual over a seven-month period in 1974, in the area of Prince George, B.C.
John has not appeared in court in person since charges were laid eight months ago. His lawyer on Wednesday said John has elected to face trial by judge and jury.
The charges John is facing — sexual intercourse with a female without consent — existed in the Criminal Code of Canada in 1974, but no longer exist under the current code.
John is the hereditary chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation and was appointed to the B.C. cabinet as minister for children and families from November 2000 to June 2001. He is a prominent Indigenous leader and lawyer who has advised the First Nations Summit and helped craft the Charlottetown Accord as well as the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).