Weapon chosen
Groundwork being laid for constitutional challenge on electoral boundaries

Richard Gleeson
Northern News Services

NNSL (Dec 02/98) - The group that plans to launch a court challenge to get Yellowknife two more seats in the legislature of the western territory has chosen its lawyer.

"We asked for expressions of interest from local law firms," said Bob MacQuarrie, vice-president of Friends of Democracy.

"We narrowed it down to two, interviewed them and chose Lawson, Lundell Lawson & McIntosh."

The firm is based in Vancouver but has an office in Yellowknife.

"They're also intending to come back next week, at least one of them, to do all the work that's necessary to get this into the courts quickly," said MacQuarrie.

The firms senior litigation lawyer Brian Wallace and assistant Ron Skolrood were scheduled to arrive in Yellowknife Tuesday to be briefed on the case by the Friends executive.

The group has also organized publicity and finance committees, chaired by MacQuarrie and Bill Enge respectively. Enge is also serving as treasurer.

Robert Slaven, the city councillor who has spearheaded the challenge, said Monday Friends of Democracy is not yet accepting public donations, since it still has to work out the form it will take -- whether it will be non-profit society, incorporated, or informal with a trust fund set up.

"We might be awarded costs, and some people might want their money back," said Slaven.

"A society, for example, can't give money back. So we have to make sure its set up right so people who want money back can get it back."

Though a date has not been set, the group is also planning to hold a public meeting next week.

"That's probably when we'll start passing around the hat," said Slaven.

MacQuarrie said the meeting will also be used to inform the public of the progress the group has made, and "get an affirmation that we're on the right track."

The city's priorities, policies and budget committee recommended Monday another member of council be appointed to the executive of Friends of Democracy.