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An Indigenous leader and former British Columbia cabinet minister has pleaded not guilty to sex charges dating back more than 40 years.

The plea was entered on behalf of Ed John, a former leader of the First Nations Summit, in Prince George provincial court on Wednesday in response to four counts of having sexual intercourse with a female without her consent.

The charges against the 71-year-old relate to incidents alleged to have occurred in the Prince George area between May and September 1974 involving one person.

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John’s lawyer entered the plea by telephone on behalf of his client, who did not appear in court.

The case is scheduled to return to court on July 16 to fix a date for a preliminary hearing.

John, who is also a hereditary chief of the Tl’azt’en Nation near Fort St. James, completed an eleventh consecutive term as a leader of the First Nations Summit political executive last year but did not run again.

He served in former New Democrat premier Ujjal Dosanjh’s cabinet as minister of children and families from November 2000 to June 2001.

John is a graduate of the law school at the University of British Columbia and holds an honorary degree from the University of Northern B.C..

He was appointed as a special adviser on Indigenous children in care in 2015 by former B.C. Liberal premier Christy Clark. (CKPG)

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