Yukon government lawyers are endorsing former chief mine engineer Paul Christman regarding a verbal altercation between him and a mining executive that the executive alleges amounts to slander.
The government filed their statement of defence responding to a slander suit on Feb. 16. The government and Christman are both defendants.
Janet Lee Sheriff, who was CEO of Golden Predator Mining Corp at the time of the alleged slander, launched the suit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia last year.
The goverment’s defense broadly supports Christman’s version of events.
Lee Sheriff and the mining firm sued Christman and the Yukon government last May, alleging that Christman publically made defamatory statements about her and the company at a 2020 mining industry conference while he was still employed by the government’s Department of Energy, Mines and Resources.
Christman and the government now seem to be largely on the same page regarding his conduct at the mining conference and licensing for the Brewery Creek mine.
This contrasts with the government’s denial of the former mine engineer’s allegations and version of events when he sued for wrongful dismissal in the spring of 2021. In the initial suit he alleged his authority was circumvented and superiors created a hostile work environment that led him to resign following conflicts around licensing at the mine. That lawsuit was settled without a trial in November 2021.
The government’s defence of the slander lawsuit denies that Christman spoke the words complained of in Lee Sheriff and Golden Predator’s notice of claim and says that if he did, they weren’t defamatory as alleged. It offers alternatives defending Christman’s words based on their good faith, qualified privilege, truth or their comment on a matter of public interest.
“Christman was not actuated or motivated by actual or express malice when he spoke of and concerning the plantiffs,” the government’s defence reads.
The government’s defence also puts forward additional facts related to the licenses for Brewery Creek mine that were a source of conflict between Christman and Golden Predator. The government states that both the water and quartz mining licenses for the property were set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021.
The mine was in a state of permanent closure because its April 2012 to January 2023 shutdown exceeded the two-year maximum in the water license that could be considered temporary.
According to the government, any mining-related activities at Brewery Creek beyond Dec. 31, 2021 would have required new or extended Quartz Mining and Water licenses. Those licenses had not been extended as of the resource conference and the government’s defence states that Lee Sheriff did not disclose this in her presentation.
Sheriff’s suit claims Christman loudly and publicly called her a liar following the presentation.
The statement of defence goes on to provide further information on Golden Predator’s 2019 request for a license extension. It states the company had committed to providing a detailed work plan for the site but had not submitted it by the time the allegedly slanderous exchange occurred.
It also states that the company had not formally applied to the government to reactivate the mine or sought an assessment from the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Board, a requirement for renewal of their licenses.
The government opposes the court granting of any relief sought by Lee Sheriff and the mining firm.
Golden Predator merged with Arizona Gold last year, taking on the new name Sabre Gold Mines Corp. The new combined firm retains ownership of the Brewery Creek Mine. Lee Sheriff is still listed as an advisor to the company on its website.
Sabre gold is still working to develop the Brewery Creek Mine publishing the results of a preliminary economic assessment of the project in January.
The allegations in the lawsuit haven’t been proven in court.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org