Seven people with Yukon ties have filed a new petition questioning the validity of the the Yukon government’s extension of the territory’s state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Court challenge filed over extension of Yukon’s state of emergency under COVID-19

The petition alleges that the Yukon government made the decision in an opaque, undemocratic way

Seven people with Yukon ties have filed a new petition questioning the validity of the Yukon government’s extension of the territory’s state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group filed a petition to the Yukon Supreme Court on Aug. 27 requesting a judicial review of the decision in June to extend the state of emergency by 90 days.

Among the petitioners are Ross Mercer, Trent Andrew Jamieson, Douglas Craig Walker, Allan Patrick Mytrash, Martin Gregory Loos, Jan Erik Martensson and Clayton Robert Thomas. All of them are Yukon residents except for Mytrash, who owns a house in the territory and has “social and economic ties” to the Yukon as well as Atlin, British Columbia.

They’re seeking an order quashing the Yukon government’s June 12 order-in-council to extend the Yukon’s state of emergency on four grounds, alleging the decision is “unreasonable or egregious” and “inconsistent with and fails to properly interpret” the territory’s Civil Emergency Measures Act.

They also allege the decision and the process leading up to it lacked proper transparency and justification, and thereby “frustrate the unwritten principles of the Canadian Constitution and other principles of Canadian Society.”

The Yukon government, minister of community services and attorney general of the Yukon are listed as respondents.

The group had previously filed another petition attacking the validity of the Civil Emergency Measures Act itself as well as an order laying out travel enforcement at the Yukon’s borders.

The government has not yet filed a reply to the Aug. 27 petition. Cabinet spokesperson Matthew Cameron wrote in a Sept. 9 email that he had no comment as the matter is before the courts.

The new petition relies on the same facts as the last one — the relatively low number of COVID-19 cases in the territory, a timeline of when the government introduced various restrictions and how the Yukon’s situation compares to other Canadian jurisdictions.

However, it takes specific aim at what the petitioners allege is a lack of accountability, transparency and necessity around the state of emergency the territory has been under since March 27.

“The reasoning put forward appears to be that the declaration of a state of emergency provides the respondents with more tools, with the possibility to act quickly ‘in case actions need to be taken,’” the petition reads, quoting a statement by Premier Sandy Silver.

“The risk to Yukoners, however, has not increased. Only the restrictions placed on Yukoners did.

“It is improper for the respondents to declare a state of emergency as a matter of convenience or expedience. Such declarations must be grounded in utmost necessity.”

The Civil Emergency Measures Act, the petition suggests, would already allow for the Yukon officials to take quick action when needed without keeping the territory under a constant state of emergency. It also argues that the act “constrains government declarations to truly imminent emergencies.”

“Nothing in the Yukon situation warrants a declaration of a state of emergency,” the petition reads in another part. “Regular democratic processes and lawmaking avenues are quite capable of responding to the situation as it presents itself in the Yukon.”

The petitioners also accused the Yukon government of making the decision to extend the state of emergency in an undemocratic way, in a process that “was completely veiled from the public eye and from the scrutiny of the legislative assembly.”

“(First Nations) communities, members of the Legislative Assembly for opposition parties (and possibly backbenchers), media and the public were all treated alike,” the petition reads.

“All were left in the dark until the Decision was announced as a fait accompli.

“In short, all stakeholders and people affected by the Decision, save for a handful of individuals brought into Cabinet’s fold were left in the dark until the decision was announced… In so doing, the respondents prevented any form of democratic process from occurring in relation to the Decision, and the very serious consequences that flow from the Decision.”

The decision to extend the state of emergency, the petition notes, has had “significant consequences on the life, liberty, dignity and livelihoods of Yukoners.”

It describes it as “one of the most important decisions that have been made by the respondents since their creation by statue,” but alleges that government officials have “failed to provide any justification” for the extension or the impacts of keeping the territory under a state of emergency.

“The petitioners, as well as all Yukoners, are entitled to an explanation by the respondents about why it is that their interests, both personal and as a society, are being affected as proposed by the Decision,” it says.

The petition is requesting the government provide all documents it relied on in extending the state of emergency, its COVID-19 models, and information, documents and notes about the threat posed by COVID-19 prior to June 12.

The case has yet to appear before a judge.

Contact Jackie Hong at

A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the first petition had been dismissed. The News regrets the error.

CoronavirusYukon courtsYukon government

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Copper Ridge resident clears their driveway after a massive over night snowfall in Whitehorse on Nov. 2, 2020. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the Whitehorse and Haines Junction areas for Jan. 18. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Winter storm warning for Haines Junction and Whitehorse

Environment Canada says the storm will develop Monday and last until Tuesday

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

Most Read