Trudeau Foundation-linked case should be heard in NL: lawyer

st. JOHN’S, NL –

The lawyer representing a woman who alleges she was sexually harassed by a former Northwest Territories premier says her client would likely have to end her lawsuit if a judge determines the trial should be moved to Quebec.

Kathryn Marshall, with the Toronto-based law firm Levitt Sheikh, argued in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court today that the case should be heard in that province, because that is where the alleged misconduct took place.

She says her client, Cherry Smiley, would have to bear the cost and emotional strife of starting over with a search for a new lawyer who can speak both French and English in a case that has already been difficult and slow.

Smiley’s statement of claim alleges she was sexually harassed in June 2018 in St. John’s, NL, by Stephen Kakfwi, who was her appointed mentor through a scholarship program offered through the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation.

The statement of claim was filed with the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador in March 2022, and names Kakfwi and the Trudeau Foundation as defendants.

Lawyer Colm St. Roch Seviour, who represents the Montreal-based foundation, says the case should be heard in Quebec because it involves an alleged breach of a contract whose terms are governed by Quebec law.

In a statement of defense, Kakfwi has denied any contact with Smiley that “could be construed as being sexual in nature.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2023.

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