A Yellowknife woman’s appeal in a human rights case against GNWT and NWT Legal Aid Commission has been dismissed after years of legal wrangling.

Elizabeth Portman filed a complaint with the NWT Human Rights Commission in 2012 alleging discrimination on the part of the territorial government’s department of justice after she was denied legal aid coverage for a previous complaint against the GNWT.

After health issues put her out of work in 2011, Portman sought long term disability benefits, but wasn’t covered by her employer’s insurer. Portman filed a human rights complaint against the GNWT for “failure to accommodate, harassment and systemic discrimination against all persons disabilities employed by it,” stated a written decision released last week.

In need of assistance to cover court costs, Portman applied to the Legal Services Board, but was denied due to a pre-existing policy that excluded funding for workers’ compensation claims and human rights complaints.
Portman then lodged another complaint against the GNWT, this time on the grounds the government legal arm’s policy was discriminatory against the disabled.

In 2014, the director of the Human Rights Commission dismissed Portman’s “unsustainable” complaint – a decision she appealed. Portman’s appeal was allowed by a human rights adjudicator, but a Supreme Court judge restored the director’s decision upon an appeal from the Legal Aid Commission.

That decision was again appealed by Portman and the Human Rights Commission, but in a ruling made on May 29, it was ultimately dismissed by the territory’s court of appeal. Three justices concluded Portman wasn’t entitled legal aid because the service she requested wasn’t “customarily available to the public,” due to the policy already in place and therefor she wasn’t discriminated against.

Cab driver found guilty of assaulting passenger

A Yellowknife cab driver has been convicted of assault causing bodily harm after punching a passenger last summer.

In a written decision handed down on May 24, Judge Garth Malakoe said he was satisfied Matar Mahamed Mahamud, 49, punched Angus Durrie – who spoke out to media following the assault – as the victim lay on the ground outside of the McDonald’s restaurant on Old Airport Road in the early hours of July 24, 2017.

An argument was sparked after Durrie said Mahamud refused to take him to an ATM to pay his fare.

The case was brought to trial after Mahamud pleaded not guilty to the charge. His lawyer argued Durrie was the aggressor and that Mahamud acted in self-defence, but Malakoe rejected the claim.

Malakoe based his decision on the testimony of a woman who witnessed part of the assault, and the injuries of Durrie, stated the decision.

Mahamud will be back in court in July for a sentencing hearing.

National Road Safety Week yields charges for Yellowknife drivers

A joint effort from the GNWT and the NWT RCMP in recognition of National Road Safety Week yielded a number of charges against Yellowknife drivers.

Of the nearly 2,500 vehicles stopped across the territory during the May 15 to May 21 blitz, 660 non-commercial vehicles were checked in the capitol, netting 33 infractions under the Motor Vehicles Act.

Three distracted driving and two impaired driving charges were handed out to Yellowknife drivers.
Two road-side suspensions were issued.

Including the numbers from Yellowknife, the campaign, in total, saw 80 Motor Vehicle Act infractions, eight distracted driving charges, four impaired driving charges and six road-side suspensions.

Trial set for woman accused of vehicle theft

A trial date has been set for a woman accused in an alleged 2017 vehicle theft.

After pleading not guilty to one count of taking a motor vehicle without consent, 26-year-old Heather Powder Henderson will head to trial in mid-September.

She’s alleged to have crashed a friend’s vehicle on Nov. 30, 2017 in Yellowknife.

Powder Henderson has previous convictions for speeding and driving without insurance.

Brendan Burke

As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility...

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