Lawyer removed from First Nation case

A Yukon lawyer has been removed from a case pitting the Liard First Nation and the Yukon government against the Kaska Dena Council because of a perceived conflict of interest.

A Yukon lawyer has been removed from a case pitting the Liard First Nation and the Yukon government against the Kaska Dena Council because of a perceived conflict of interest.

Steve Walsh has been barred from representing the Kaska Dena Council since he would have been arguing against Liard First Nation, a group he has represented in the past.

The Kaska Dena Council took the Yukon government to court last year after Killdeer Minerals staked the Wildcat 92 mineral claim within its traditional territory. The BC-Yukon council represents five First Nation groups, including the Liard First Nation.

The Kaska claim it should have been consulted by the government before Energy, Mines and Resources granted Killdeer its mineral claims. That’s because the land – which Liard First Nation has yet to settle – is technically under its jurisdiction, it says.

Rather than join the Kaska, the Liard First Nation teamed up with the government to fight the group in court. The government has a duty to consult with the Liard First Nation and not the Kaska Dena Council, they claim.

Shortly afterwards, the Liard First Nation argued Walsh shouldn’t be allowed to represent the council and filed for case management with the judge.

The First Nation cited 11 different cases in which Walsh would have gained confidential information about the group that he could use against them in court.

The two primary instances where Walsh was unable to prove he wasn’t in conflict-of-interest was the First Nation’s 2004 Election Regulations act and the 1992 Simpson Lake Accord.

Both documents, which Walsh assisted the First Nation in writing and deals with the group’s constitution, would give Walsh an upper hand in arguing the Kaska are entitled to be consulted by the government.

Using case law, Judge Leigh Gower ruled he m ust disqualify Walsh from the case.

Chief Liard McMillan would not comment on the case as it is still before court.

No court date has been set for the original case as a second case-management file has been scheduled for August.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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