Lawyer involved in ill-fated condo
By Brent Wittmeier
27 December 2014
Short bought two units.
EDMONTON - An Edmonton lawyer who represented hundreds of local
aboriginals in the Indian Residential Schools settlements has quit
practising law ahead of disciplinary action for his part in an
ill-fated condo development.
Following a legal career that spanned more than half a century — and
garnered a mention in the historic 2005 agreement in principle between
the federal government and residential school claimants — Leslie
Meiklejohn resigned from the Law Society of Alberta in mid-September.
According to a hearing report posted online at the Law Society of
Alberta website earlier this month, Meiklejohn admits he failed to live
up to sales agreements for Leduc’s Bellavera Green condo development.
He didn’t pay the $100,000 per unit stipulated by the deals, while
failing to disclose units already had other mortgages registered
Helmed by mortgage fraudster Kevyn Frederick, the partially constructed
Bellavera Green condo development fell into financial trouble in late
2011, when millions of dollars in mortgages and loans disappeared,
leaving multiple claims on Frederick’s highly leveraged real estate
After Frederick failed to pay contractors or mortgages, construction
stopped at the site. Safety concerns went unresolved, and by early
2012, the Leduc Fire Department evacuated the building because of
their properties never really
belonged to them
Owners of the units eventually learned their properties never really
belonged to them. Multiple mortgages were already on their titles. Most
buyers at Bellavera Green condos had borrowed extensively to buy
multiple condo units, but ended up with little apart from mortgage
The condo was finally sold out of receivership in March 2013 for $16.68
million, with the proceeds going to other debtors.
Meiklejohn’s resignation came before disciplinary hearing proceedings
that might have disbarred him anyway. A three-member committee accepted
Meiklejohn’s application in part to avoid a lengthy hearing. Meiklejohn
had no disciplinary record before Bellavera, and cooperated during the
society’s investigation into his role. He promised to co-operate with
claims made against the Law Society and to not seek reinstatement. He
was ordered to pay $2,450 for the hearing plus the costs of an
The time frame, not the resignation itself, is what surprises Darryl
Short, an engineering technologist and a former condo board president
at Bellavera Green. Short personally lost $444,000, he said, when his
lawyer transferred money to Meiklejohn as part of a deal for two units.
Short still keeps in touch with his fellow investors, who he said feel
they got “thrown through the mud.”
After Frederick disappeared, banks and mortgage companies began
targeting Meiklejohn through civil proceedings. Meiklejohn’s personal
assets were seized and he was forced into bankruptcy proceedings.
Mortgage companies fought with the law society over his $2-million
insurance policy — the mandatory minimum for Alberta lawyers — and the
possibility of additional money from the society’s assurance “missing
Short is doubtful he and his fellow residents will ever get their money
back. But a settlement between Bellavera creditors and the law society
over the assurance fund might finally stop banks from pursuing their
lost mortgages. Former Bellavera condo buyers would then be able to
rebuild ruined credit ratings and move on with their lives.
No charges were ever laid...
No charges were ever laid against Frederick or anyone else.
Meiklejohn couldn’t be reached for comment. According to his LinkedIn
profile, he’d had his own legal practice in Edmonton since 1990. He
graduated from the University of Saskatchewan in 1961, came to Edmonton
in 1969, then worked for Alberta Justice for nine years.
Meiklejohn was admitted to the bar in Alberta in April, 1970. In the
early 2000s, Meiklejohn represented hundreds of Indian Residential
School survivors who sued the federal government for abuse suffered in
church-run schools in Alberta.
“You often get the feeling you’re banging your head against the wall,”
he said in 2004, describing government responses to the early legal
cases. The next year, his law firm was one of 19 named as a consortium
hired to process residential school complaints.
In the days after Bellavera Green’s evacuation, Meiklejohn expressed
surprise his former partner had disappeared. Frederick was a bright,
ambitious man who emerged from a tough childhood in Montreal with a
strong desire to make something of his life, he said.
“He worked pretty hard to carve a niche for himself in the world,”
Meiklejohn said at the time. “I have some ideas about how he got into
this mess, but they are only guesses. I have nothing to substantiate