Cambridge Bay-based Adlair Aviation botched its 2011 bid for a Kitikmeot medevac contract – which the company had held for the previous 20 years or so – and now must pay the Government of Nunavut’s court costs, a judge has ruled. Taloyoak-based Aqsaqniq Airways Ltd. – a partnership between Aqsaqniq Ltd. and Yellowknife-based Discovery Air subsidiary Air Tindi – won the contract instead.
Justice Paul Bychok stated on Oct. 13 that Adlair failed to provide mandatory information on how, if it was the successful proponent, it would provide a range of benefits to Inuit, Nunavut and “local content”. Therefore Adlair’s medevac proposal was “deficient,” according to Bychok. Aqsaqniq provided those details and finished in first place based on a point system. Adlair placed fifth overall.
Adlair claimed damages totalling more than $31 million as a result of losing the five-year air ambulance contract.
The Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti (NNI) contracting appeals board denied Adlair’s complaints later in 2011. It took almost four years for Adlair’s lawyer, Ed Brogden, to file for a judicial review of the case. Following the review, Bychok said Adlair’s complaint doesn’t have enough substance to proceed to trial.
Furthermore, the judge rejected Brogden’s assertion that the Government of Nunavut should have informed Adlair Aviation that it overlooked the Inuit and Northern benefits section of its bid.
Bychok was repeatedly critical of Brogden’s professional conduct and said he lacked an understanding of the law of judicial review.
“Mr. Brogden had an ethical duty to familiarize himself with the law. It is clear he did not,” Bychok stated. “A lawyer holds himself out to be knowledgeable and capable in practising law. He has an ongoing ethical duty to keep abreast of changes in the law in his practice areas. It is clear Mr. Brogden has failed to do so and that he has failed the most basic ethical obligations of a lawyer.”
Brogden previously referred to Aqsaqniq as a “paper company” with Discovery Air as the clear operator. The GN’s statement of defence described Aqsaqniq Airways as a “joint-venture based in Taloyoak with Aqsaqniq controlling 51 per cent and with Air Tindi as the minority partner.”
The judge suggested that Adlair and its lawyer, as they continued to gain details pertinent to the case, should have realized that legal action would not be fruitful.
“Finite, valuable court time and resources would not have been squandered,” Bychok stated.
The judge gave the Government of Nunavut 10 days to submit its court costs.