Joel Krahn/Yukon News
Justice accessibility has been the focus of Yukon's court system for the past year.

Yukon government reports nearly $1-million spent on legal services since 2019

Challenge to COVID-19 measures has cost government more than $700,000 in two years

Since 2019, the Yukon government has spent $993,277 on outside legal services and counsel.

The total comes from a government statement tabled in the Yukon legislature on Dec. 2 by Justice Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee.

The document served as an answer to written questions from Lake Laberge MLA Brad Cathers, submitted on May 25.

Far and away, the most expensive litigation has been the challenge to the COVID-19 state of emergency launched by Ross Mercer and five others in 2020.

According to the written answer tabled in the legislature a total of $704,460 had been spent on the case as of Dec. 2.

The government paid $139,067 to British Columbia law firm Arvay Finley LLP in the 2020/21 fiscal year and a further $40,590 to date in the 2021/22 fiscal year.

An even greater expense, totaling more than half a million dollars, has been paid to McCarthy Tétrault LLP for document production related to the legal challenge. Document production is the process of delivering documents or making them available for review in response to a request from parties in a legal action.

Document production costs provided for the Mercer case have totaled $524,801.

In addition to the spending on the Mercer matter, the Yukon government has shelled out for outside legal assistance on four other legal cases. In the Chance Oil and Gas Ltd. vs. the Government of Yukon case, a $2.2 billion lawsuit over a government moratorium on fracking, the government spent $1,347 in 2019/20, $159,059 in 2020/21 and $2,466 in this fiscal year.

The government spent $8,874 this fiscal year on a slander suit launched in the B.C. courts by the Golden Predator Mining Corporation and its CEO Janet Lee Sheriff against the Yukon government and former chief mine engineer Paul Christman.

Two law firms, one based in Toronto and one in Ottawa, were paid a total of $66,084 for work representing the government’s interests in the Yukon Zinc Corporation receivership. The division of the bankrupt former operator of the Wolverine Mine’s assets seemed bound for the Supreme Court of Canada but the court announced it wouldn’t hear it in early November.

A lawsuit by two Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in citizens Charles Eshleman and Christine Mullin against the federal and territorial governments over alleged experiences related to their removal from their homes in the 60s scoop has cost the government $50,983 in outside legal help since 2019.

McPhee also states that the Yukon government is engaged in approximately 277 court cases including civil matters, child protection matters and criminal prosecutions.

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