The Yukon government has hired a new legal team for the Peel watershed case.
Toronto-based firm Torys LLP will replace John Hunter of Hunter Litigation Chambers through the appeal of the land-use planning dispute.
Hunter represented the Yukon government in July’s trial over the fate of the Peel watershed.
Mark Pindera, assistant deputy minister for Justice, said that Hunter’s performance to date is not at issue, and he continues to work with the department on other files.
“There are no concerns with what he brings, and his expertise continues to provide significant value to the legal team here at Justice,” he said.
“At any given stage in a case, whether in trial or appeal, win or lose, it’s not uncommon to change members of the legal team. And this is done to provide some fresh perspective and objective re-canvassing of the issues.”
The Torys team includes former Supreme Court Justice Frank Iacobucci.
“These are all fairly high-ranking lawyers in the legal sphere in Canada,” said Pindera.
John Terry, another team member, represented the government of Ontario in negotiations with the Asubpeeschoseewagong (or Grassy Narrows) First Nation on conflicts over forestry.
“The team at Torys was selected because of their expertise, first and foremost,” said Pindera. “Clearly this particular counsel come with an exceptional reputation and track record.”
It’s unclear at this point if the change in legal team signals a change of course for the Yukon government.
“Torys is going to be reviewing the case and making recommendations to government,” said Pindera. “That’s something that we expect of them, and we’ll wait to see … what they have to say.”
A date for the appeal hearing has not yet been set.