Omar Khadr’s lawyer Nathan Whitling allegedly leaves First Nation women in the lurch
“We would like to get Omar’s clock ticking again. We want this sentence to actually start ticking, so it will expire.”
These were the words spoken by lawyer Nathan Whitling about his client Omar Khadr’s sentence earlier this month.
While these words may raise the eyebrows of some Canadians, as they remember back the $10.5 million payout Khadr received from the Trudeau government in 2017, for some First Nation women fighting for transparency and accountability from their leadership, these words are incredibly frustrating.
Looking for answers
After months of dealing with alleged corruption and transparency issues with the Chief and Council of Tallcree First Nation, Renee Higa-Brown has just about had enough.
Higa-Brown, along with four other women from her band, launched a court case aimed at getting some answers from their leadership as to why 400 Tallcree members were disenfranchised and unable to vote in the last election.
Originally, the women were represented by Jeffery Rath of Rath & Co. but, due to a conflict of interest on Rath’s part, he was unable to continue representing them and recommended they take up the legal counsel of Nathan Whitling.
Rath had previously represented the Tallcree leadership during their negotiations with the federal government around the Agricultural Settlement Agreement (Cows and Ploughs) but had fallen out of favour with them and had taken them to court to receive payment for his work.
Rath ended up winning his case and received twenty percent of the $57 million dollar deal he brokered plus the interest on the ten percent that is held in the children’s trusts fund.
Whitling agrees to help
According to email records obtained by The Post Millennial, Whitling originally agreed to do the case pro bono, however, no formal documentation was ever drafted. Higa-Brown and the other women gratefully accepted his offer via email and looked forward to continuing with their case.
However, after months of delayed email responses, rescheduled meetings and missed teleconferences, the women were getting quite fed-up. They had been asking for a meeting with Whitling to discuss having Judge Mandamin removed from their case because of a conflict of interest on his part (he wrote the original Tallcree election code) but were unable to get Whitling to talk to them on the phone or in person.
Frustrated by all this, the women decided to boycott the case until Whitling would listen to their request to have Judge Mandamin removed. On February 1, Whitling responded via email by dropping the case and advising the women to seek out new counsel.
At this point, it appeared that their dealings with Whitling were complete. However, this was not so. On February 7, Whitling unexpectedly reached out to them letting them know that Judge Manadamin had agreed to step off the case and that if they were still interested, he could continue to represent them.
Four out of the five women agreed to chat with Whitling via teleconference later that week to discuss continuing with his legal counsel but none of them received a response back from him in time for the teleconference.
Then, on February 13, according to court documents obtained by The Post Millennial, Whitling filed a motion with the federal court saying that he was removing himself from the case, saying that he had given notice to his clients on February 9th.
However, according to email records between the women and Whitling, this claim does not appear to be accurate. Whitling originally said he would stop acting as their legal counsel on February 1st, but then on February 7th he re-offered his services.
All of this left the women very confused and unsure of who their legal counsel was and whether or not they would be able to go through with their case.
No real interest in helping
Doris Champagne, one of the women involved in the case, said that Whitling’s involvement was “inconsistent” and that “he came across as not having an interest in the case.”
I feel that Nathan Whitling did this as favour to his lawyer friend [Jeffery Rath] and Judge Mandamin. I felt right from the beginning that I and the group were not being taken seriously, to him we were Indigenous women to be hushed up and not make waves,” Champagne said.
Wanita Mitchell, another one of the applicants on the case, told The Post Millennial that Whitling “did not want to have a discussion with us.”
“I have not met Nathan but since he is the lawyer, I felt that he was going to represent me and go over the case – “How will I know if this is a weak case or or a strong case?” I didn’t get the chance to talk to him by teleconference, because he cancelled. He was supposed to be our saviour and the expert on The Charter of Right & Freedoms. I was not looking for money, I just wanted all of our disenfranchised members the right to vote like we did with the cow and ploughs.”Wanita Mitchell
Higa-Brown went even further telling The Post Millennial that by the end of the case they “had zero confidence” in Whitling and wanted him out.
“We felt that Nathan didn’t want anything to do with our case because he kept ignoring our emails for extended periods of time and quit on us twice. I was confused about Nathan quitting on us twice, because Nathan never confirmed that he was taking our case on ‘pro bono’ officially by having us sign to an agreement. The last time that Nathan discussed plans for the case was on February 08, 2019 when he cancelled the teleconference meeting and quit on us a second time. Nathan never did give us the chance to be heard, we had to issue boycotts in order for him to understand that we meant business. We honestly thought that Jeff Rath was referring the best to us, I guess Jeff just wanted to move on fast after being ruled a conflict of interest. We really have no idea why Nathan took our case on. We feel that Nathan has destroyed any chance of us making headway.”Renee Higa-Brown
All of this leaves a sour taste in the mouths of these women. They feel slighted and disrespected by a lawyer who was able to find plenty of time to represent a convicted terrorist but can’t find a spot in his schedule to meet with some First Nations women fighting alleged corruption in their own community.
For his part, Whitling denies the women’s charges, saying there was “no lack of professionalism” on his part. He refused to meet their demands to remove Judge Mandamin from the case because “there was no basis for doing so.”
While Whitling did acknowledge that he cancelled the teleconference because he thought that some of the women were planning on boycotting it, he maintains that he was clear in his communications “at all times.”
“My involvement and motion to be removed from the record have had no effect on the Applicants’ ability to pursue their claim which remains before the Court. I hope that they are able to find alternative counsel willing to act for them and to pursue their claim.”Nathan Whitling
An anti-pipeline blockade was erected in Toronto near the corner of Jane and Dundas at the end of the workday on Tuesday. Police were quick to respond and are currently facing off against the blockaders.
Police took some blockaders off the tracks but others remain and the tracks are still blocked as blockaders are demanding an Indigenous liaison.
Photojournalist Beth Baisch, who has freelanced for The Post Millennial, is on the scene, is being blocked from taking video by activists.
The blockade was set up by Toronto group Rising Tide Toronto and was one of a few blockades that prevented thousands of people from getting home from work.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.
Conservative leadership candidate, Peter MacKay, is not a fan of the legalization of marijuana. He says he is worried about how it will affect driving, mental health and young people according to Vice.
During an interview with the Kelowna Daily Courier MacKay said that he believes the legalization of marijuana was “forced” and it should only have been decriminalized.
“It should have been decriminalized and that’s where our government was heading on the advice of the Canadian Police Association and chiefs of police. Bringing in a phased-way with decriminalization would have been far preferable. What I most worry about is the impact on young people, the mental health implications, the impaired driving implications,” said MacKay.
Stats Canada released information that conflicts with some of MacKay’s views. The statistics show that consumption of marijuana in 15-17-year-olds has dropped 10 percent since its legalization.
MacKay described the legalization as a “back-of-a-napkin promise that the current prime minister had made.”
He also called the attempt by the government to reduce black market sales a “complete failure.”
“I believe we have jumped the shark on that issue. More emphasis on protecting people from other drugs, fentanyl and oxycontin has to be part of any plan that’s there for public health reasons.” MacKay continued.
“The promise that it (legalization) was going to reduce the black market has been a complete failure. There’s now simply more marijuana available to more people, including young people. I don’t think that’s the most productive and highest priority that a government could pursue.”
MacKay is not the only politician against cannabis legalization. Former Conservative MP Julian Fantino compared legalization to murder in an old interview with the Toronto Sun, Fantino said, “I guess we can legalize murder, too, and then we won’t have a murder case”
In 2015, Fantino said he was still “completely opposed to legalization of marijuana”
Peter MacKay’s campaign manager Alex Nuttall has had to apologize over a tweet that seemed to link an invitation to a shooting range with complaints about the anti-pipeline protests.
In his original tweet, Nuttall said “tonight might be the best church service ever. People keep walking up to me to saying the blockade should go down … and then they announced a day at the range for anyone that wants to go.”
This tweet soon created outrage on social media, with many seeing Nuttall’s message as a suggestion for Canadians to “shoot ingenious people.” Nuttall, however, was quickly clarified his tweet, saying “there are two unrelated thoughts that shouldn’t have been communicated together.”
Peter MacKay’s campaign has been plagued with mistakes on social media. A few weeks ago, Mackay had to apologize for a tweet referencing the Prime Minister’s indulgence in yoga, which seemed to make fun of the innocuous activity.
After Nuttall published the apology, he made his Twitter account private.
A murder with a hammer that killed a 64-year-old Toronto woman on Feb. 21 is being called a terrorist attack by police, as the murderer now faces terrorism-related charges.
Police say Saad Akhtar, 30, was facing first-degree murder charges over the death of the woman, when those charges were changed to “murder-terrorist activity” by prosecutors. The change was made due to the prosecutors belief that the murder constituted terrorist activity.
“As part of our investigation into the homicide, we came across evidence that lead us to believe there may be a terrorism-related offence,” said Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray to Global News.
Police contacted the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team in Toronto, the group responsible for probing terrorism cases. The charges were then changed Monday morning.
Akhtar would eventually turn himself into police shortly after the attack.
The victim was apparently a random target. Sixty-four-year-old Hang-Kam Annie Chiu was called “a stranger” by the suspect’s mother.
If found guilty of terrorism charges, it would be the first deadly terrorist instance since the July 22, 2018 Danforth shootings in which Faisal Hussain killed two people and injured 13 in Toronto’s Danforth neighbourhood.
Akhtar’s murder occurred on his usual daily walk home from his local mosque, but his mother claims he did not return home at the usual time. Police say the murder did not occur on Akhtar’s usual route home.