Saskatchewan lawyer Tony Merchant is facing a law society complaint in Alberta filed by a Sixties Scoop survivor. (CBC) One of the lawyers appointed to sit on a healing foundation created by the Sixties Scoop settlement agreement is facing a law society complaint in Alberta from a Sixties Scoop survivor.
Peter Van Name, 47, filed a complaint against Saskatchewan lawyer Tony Merchant, of Merchant Law Group, on Wednesday with the Law Society of Alberta, according to a copy of the complaint provided to CBC News.
Van Name’s complaint states he is seeking to have Merchant disbarred.
The $875 million Sixties Scoop settlement agreement sets aside $750 million for all status First Nations and Inuit children placed into foster care or adopted by a non-Indigenous parent between 1951 and 1991.
Merchant was appointed as one of the founding members of the $50 million Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation created by the agreement. The remaining $75 million of the settlement is earmarked for lawyers’ fees.
The healing foundation, which also includes Federal Court Justice Michel Shore as a director, was incorporated days before Shore approved the settlement agreement on May 11 following hearings in Saskatoon.
Shore’s involvement in approving a deal he also brokered is the subject of a separate judicial complaint filed by another Sixties Scoop survivor.
Merchant filed a Sixties Scoop claim on behalf of Van Name in Alberta in 2011. Van Name’s case was included in the Sixties Scoop agreement-in-principle finalized in November 2017.
"He never told me anything that was going on," said Van Name, in an interview with CBC News.
"He doesn’t tell his clients anything."
Van Name said his mother was forced to give him up for adoption by Catholic nuns in Edmonton. He said his mom had run away from Holy Angels Indian Residential School in Fort Chipewyan, Alta., and had sought refuge with the nuns.
Van Name is Mikisew Cree and was adopted out to a family in New Jersey.
Susan Bourassa, Merchant’s assistant, said the lawyer did not know anything about the complaint.
"You will have to wait until he finds out something about the complaint," said Bourassa. ‘He has not acted in good faith’
Van Name’s Law Society of Alberta complaint is based on concerns outlined in a letter he sent on Tuesday to the Federal Court seeking to make submissions on the $37.5 million in fees three law firms involved with the federal portion of the settlement agreement are seeking to receive. Merchant Law Group is one of the three.
The fees were deemed "excessive" by Ontario Superior Court Justice Edward Belobaba.Federal Court Justice Michael Phelan is expected to rule on the fee issue soon. The matter was de-linked from the settlement agreement. Sixties Scoop survivor Peter Van Name filed a complaint with the Law Society of Alberta against lawyer Tony Merchant. (Jason Warick/CBC) Van Name said the statement of claim filed on his behalf by Merchant in Alberta did not reflect what he told the law firm.Van Name said he instructed Merchant to amend his claim in October 2017 but the request was ignored. Van Name said he fired Merchant a few months later and the law firm returned his documentation in March."His lack of care and professional misconduct obviously has been overlooked by all the parties as he has not acted in good faith in representing my interests," he wrote.Van Name said he paid Merchant $2,000 to take on his case in 2000 and heard from his office only a handful of times in the years that followed."The law group never even met with me. They always had me sending stuff in their office about my adoption and stuff like that," said Van […]
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