P.E.I. Supreme Court. FILE PHOTO
Deborah Kelly Hawkes wanted social assistance to pay for it, but was declined at numerous levels of hearings
A fight over a $50 driver's licence has cost the provincial government almost $6,000 in legal costs for a case that dragged out almost 10 years.
On March 27, P.E.I. Supreme Court Justice Ben Taylor issued a decision after Deborah Kelly Hawkes asked for a judicial review of a P.E.I. Human Rights Commission ruling on her attempts to get social assistance to pay for her driver¹s licence.
Taylor dismissed her application.
A spokeswoman for the Finance Department said the province paid $5,973.68 in legal fees and disbursements related to the judicia review of Hawkes¹s human right complaint.
The applications for a judicial review named P.E.I.¹s attorney general,
the government of P.E.I., the minister of community services, seniors and labour, and the P.E.I. Human Rights Commission as respondents.
In 2003, Hawkes made a request through her financial assistance worker to get $50 to pay for the renewal of her driver's licence, which was denied.
She eventually filed a complaint with the human rights commission saying it was discrimination, but that complaint was dismissed.
A hearing was scheduled for Oct. 1, 2013 for the judicial review, but when it started Hawkes said she wouldn't get fair treatment or a fair hearing from Taylor.
She packed up her things, left the courthouse and the hearing proceeded without her.
Hawkes is no stranger to the courts and in August, 2013 Taylor declared her a vexatious litigant, which restricts her ability to start any further legal proceedings.
Her judicial review pre-dated the vexatious litigant decision.
Taylor's recent decision on the judicial review application said at some point someone at social services did give Hawkes an envelope containing $50 "perhaps in the hope she would leave."
After saying she couldn't afford it, Hawkes paid for the licence and sought repayment from social services, Taylor wrote in his decision.
Taylor said that based on the materials he was dealing with, there was no indication Hawkes even had an arguable basis for her claim and it's clear that under the Social Assistance Act the government won't pay for a driver's licence.
He also wrote that the human rights commission has no right to increase the amount social services will pay through social assistance.
When Taylor declared Hawkes a vexatious litigant he ordered her to pay $5,000 to the provincial government in costs.
He declined to order any further costs as a result of this judicial review application.