Lawyer will face review of residential schools compensation practice

By Kathleen Martens
APTN Investigates
VANCOUVER – A Vancouver lawyer has agreed to have his work with residential schools compensation clients put under the microscope.

The Independent Assessment Process’ Chief Adjudicator Dan Ish confirmed that the lawyer will be interviewed by investigators, who will also talk to at least one person who has made an allegation concerning the lawyer.

The lawyer, who cannot be named under court order, agreed to a review of his practice Friday after three days of talks supervised by Vancouver Supreme Court Judge Brenda Brown.

The meetings were held in a closed courtroom. Subsequently, arguments for and against the review were not made public.

However, sources tell APTN only three parties agreed to the review. They are the unnamed lawyer, Canada and the court monitor. Others wanted a full-scale investigation.

While the court monitor, who oversees the IAP process on behalf of the court, and the federal government agreed to the review as a way of getting the process started, Ish opposed it.

“I don’t think it goes far enough,” he said.

Other parties, including the Assembly of First Nations, have not yet stated their positions. The AFN did not have a lawyer present for the hearings.

The three-day hearing, which was marked by an unusually high level of secrecy, started in Vancouver Wednesday. Allegations against the lawyer were to be presented to the judge who would then provide direction on how to proceed.

Parties were expecting the judge to order a full-scale investigation like she did before in the case of Blott & Company and form filling company Honour Walk, who were eventually banned from the Independent Assessment Process.

But not this time.

Brown urged everyone to try and resolve the issue or at least narrow the scope of the probe. The judge did not explain her reasons but cited the “extensive” and expensive nature of ordering a full investigation.

The move took all parties by surprise.

They spent the next two-and-half days and nights negotiating the review that was announced at noon Friday.

The details of the order were not immediately made public. The order was to be typed up and released later today. APTN will report in more detail once a copy of the order is obtained.

The review was sparked by complaints that residential school survivors in several B.C. communities were being intimidated and threatened to hand over some of their compensation money to a convicted killer named Ivon Johnny. APTN has learned the convicted killer dealt with at least 284 people.

“Mr. Johnny scared a lot of people,” Ish said.

Johnny, 62, was on parole at the time. He said he worked for the unnamed lawyer distributing and collecting compensation application forms using a truck the lawyer bought him.

He denies he extorted funds from residential school survivors, forced them to drop their lawyers to sign on with his, or exaggerate their claims of abuse to receive more compensation.

The money is paid by Canada for serious physical and sexual abuse suffered by children who were forced to attend residential schools.

Johnny’s full parole was revoked by a parole board last month after the extortion allegations became public. Brown also suspended him from participating any further in the compensation program known as the Independent Assessment Process.

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