Yukon calls French judge ‘biased’

The Yukon government is accusing a judge of bias following his order the government must fund three teachers at the Yukon's only French high school.

The Yukon government is accusing a judge of bias following his order the government must fund three teachers at the Yukon’s only French high school.

Justice Vital Ouellette made the interim order on June 24 while the government and the Commission Scholaire Francophone du Yukon hash it out in a lawsuit over the board’s funding.

Ouellette made the order without providing his reasoning or considering evidence from the government’s side, say documents filed by government lawyers two days later.

He grimaced and laughed at the government’s arguments during the trial – signalling a reluctance to take them seriously, the documents allege.

He also made errors in law, they say. Ouellette took the school board’s view of its contribution agreements at face value and misinterpreted them. The school board was able to convince Ouellette it has authority over its funding, which the agreements makess clear is not true, says the government.

Furthermore, the school board didn’t prove that failing to fund the teachers this coming school year would cause irreparable harm.

“His honour, throughout the proceedings, made statements, rulings, facial expressions, uttering and inconsistent rulings disproportionately favouring the plaintiff, giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias,” say the documents.

The appeal is an unexpected twist in the months-long battle between the school board and the government.

The board filed a lawsuit in February alleging it had control over its funding for buildings, personnel and activities. The board argues that its lack of control is a breach of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which protects minority language rights.

The fight was ignited after the Yukon Department of Education cut funding for a pilot project last year that brought “experiential learning” to the territory’s few French first-language students.

The project – which is supported through a Canadian Heritage fund and the Yukon – is meant to increase enrolment, but so far results have been mixed.

The trial was split into two parts. The first dealt with the school board’s demands that it have more control over funds entitled to it under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That lasted three weeks in June.

A second part, to examine the school board’s demands that new facilities be built, continues in January.

Andre Bourcier, president of the school board, was not available for comment.

Contact James Munson at


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

Just Posted

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley gives a COVID-19 update during a press conference in Whitehorse on May 26. The Yukon government announced two new cases of COVID-19 in the territory with a press release on Oct. 19. (Alistair Maitland Photography)
Two new cases of COVID-19 announced in Yukon

Contact tracing is complete and YG says there is no increased risk to the public

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on April 8. Yukon Energy faced a potential “critical” fuel shortage in January due to an avalanche blocking a shipping route from Skagway to the Yukon, according to an email obtained by the Yukon Party and questioned in the legislature on Oct. 14. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Energy faced ‘critical’ fuel shortage last January due to avalanche

An email obtained by the Yukon Party showed energy officials were concerned

Jeanie McLean (formerly Dendys), the minister responsible for the Women’s Directorate speaks during legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Nov. 27, 2017. “Our government is proud to be supporting Yukon’s grassroots organizations and First Nation governments in this critical work,” said McLean of the $175,000 from the Yukon government awarded to four community-based projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon government gives $175k to projects aimed at preventing violence against Indigenous women

Four projects were supported via the Prevention of Violence against Aboriginal Women Fund

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone

When I was a kid, CP Air had a monopoly on flights… Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Don’t let the City of Whitehorse distract you

A little over two weeks after Whitehorse city council voted to give… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Northwestel has released the proposed prices for its unlimited plans. Unlimited internet in Whitehorse and Carcross could cost users between $160.95 and $249.95 per month depending on their choice of package. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet options outlined

Will require CRTC approval before Northwestel makes them available

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse. Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting instead of 30 days to make up for lost time caused by COVID-19 in the spring. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Legislative assembly sitting extended

Yukon’s territorial government will sit for 45 days this sitting. The extension… Continue reading

Today’s mailbox: Mad about MAD

Letters to the editor published Oct. 16, 2020

Alkan Air hangar in Whitehorse. Alkan Air has filed its response to a lawsuit over a 2019 plane crash that killed a Vancouver geologist on board, denying that there was any negligence on its part or the pilot’s. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Alkan Air responds to lawsuit over 2019 crash denying negligence, liability

Airline filed statement of defence Oct. 7 to lawsuit by spouse of geologist killed in crash

Whitehorse city council members voted Oct. 13 to decline an increase to their base salaries that was set to be made on Jan. 1. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Council declines increased wages for 2021

Members will not have wages adjusted for CPI

A vehicle is seen along Mount Sima Road in Whitehorse on May 12. At its Oct. 13 meeting, Whitehorse city council approved the third reading for two separate bylaws that will allow the land sale and transfer agreements of city-owned land — a 127-square-metre piece next to 75 Ortona Ave. and 1.02 hectares of property behind three lots on Mount Sima Road. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse properties could soon expand

Land sale agreements approved by council

Most Read