The Yukon government’s spending on outside legal services — scrutinized by the Opposition late last year — was not exceptional compared to previous years.
The total spent on one particular case, however, was the government’s most expensive case since 2015.
Responding to a request for information from opposition MLAs, the Yukon government disclosed $993,277 in spending on outside legal services between 2019 and late September 2021.
The document disclosed $463,991 in spending for the 2020/2021 fiscal year and $653,972 in the 2021/22 fiscal year.
An additional $23,307 was spent in 2020/2021 and $40,778 in 2021/22 hiring lawyers to assist with drafting legislation.
The totals presented were accurate as of Sept. 30, meaning the expenditures for the 2021/22 year may have increased.
The spending totals disclosed late last year are either less or within the same range as what the government spent in the years prior.
Legal services spending totals obtained by the News, which were provided by calendar rather than fiscal year show: $1,333,550 spent in 2015, $713,844 in 2016, $844,608 in 2017 and $824,105 in 2018.
It did contain the largest outside counsel expense of any piece of litigation since 2015: the challenge to COVID-19 restrictions launched by Ross Mercer and a group of other litigants. The total cost of contracted legal services associated with Mercer’s suit as of the government’s Dec. 2021 disclosure of spending was $704,460.
The government hired outside counsel for the Mercer case for a total cost of $139,068 in 2020/21 and $40,590 in 2021/22. In the 2021/22 fiscal year $524,802 was spent on document production for the case.
Other legal services rendered to the Yukon government that have carried a large price tag since 2015 include: litigation surrounding the territory’s Francophone School Board, an appeal of land use planning in the Peel Watershed, a legal dispute with the First Nation of Na-Cho Nyak Dun and an ongoing lawsuit with the company hired to replace a portion of the runway at the Whitehorse airport.
In 2015, $200,573 was spent on the Francophone School Board matter at the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Peel Land use appeal drew $233,952 in spending between 2015 and 2017.
$133,872 was spent on the Na-Cho Nyak Dun dispute between 2015 and 2017
In 2017 and 2018 the government contracted out $134,003 in assistance for its dispute with Norcope Enterprises Ltd. over problems with runway apron panels the company had installed at the Erik Nielsen International airport.
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org