By Kathleen Martens
WINNIPEG — It’s news thousands of Indian Residential School survivors have been waiting for. Calgary lawyer David Blott has been suspended from practising by the Law Society of Alberta.
But it’s not for his involvement in a financial scam – it’s for failing to pay his annual law society membership fees due March 17.
Blott made millions of dollars handling residential school compensation claims under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. The law society learned in 2010 he was part of an elaborate plan to skim more money off survivors but did not discipline him beyond appointing a supervising lawyer to watch him.
It was up to B.C. Supreme Court Justice Brenda Brown to remove Blott from the compensation program called the Independent Assessment Process or IAP in 2011, and curb his interaction with survivors.
Survivors who complained to the law society are still waiting for the law society to do more.
The 2014 active membership fee for the Law Society of Alberta is $2,656.50, including GST. The society’s website says the annual dues fund the regulatory operations of the organization.
Blott is being sued by nearly 6,000 survivors who want their money back and financial damages.
Their lawyer, Maxime Faille of Ottawa, is waiting for the lawsuit to be certified. He has also asked the court to make Blott pay the legal costs of the suit against him.
A spokeswoman for the law society says Blott’s actions aren’t being ignored. They are the subject of a review by the conduct committee.
An investigation by APTN Investigates and the Indian Residential Schools Adjudication Secretariat found Blott was funding affiliated companies that were taking a cut from survivors’ compensation awards. He was also linked to two loan companies in charging sometimes “criminal rates” of interest while loaning survivors money in advance of their awards. Doing either is a violation of the settlement agreement and the Financial Administration Act.