mccorkell-robert-2002

Robert McCorkill lived in Saskatoon and Ottawa before moving to Saint John, where he died in 2004. (Southern Poverty Law Center)

A New Brunswick court case to keep a collection of coins and investments worth an estimated $250,000 from going to an American neo-Nazi group could break new legal ground in Canada, according to a lawyer.

Robert McCorkill left his collection to the National Alliance when he died in Saint John nine years ago, but the estate remains in dispute.

Isabelle McCorkill, his estranged sister, is now arguing the will should be null and void.

"We're not taking any issue with how it's drafted or anything like that. We're taking issue with the specific gift to the National Alliance," said Marc-Antoine Chiasson, her Moncton-based lawyer.

He contends giving nearly $250,000 to a white supremacist group violates Canadian policy and is against the law.

'In our view, the gift would basically be financing a hate group, which flies in the face of what we stand for in Canada.'—Marc-Antoine Chiasson, lawyer

"In our view, the gift would basically be financing a hate group, which flies in the face of what we stand for in Canada," said Chiasson.

"Hate speech in Canada is criminally prohibited. Secondly, Canada has signed on to numerous international conventions with the specific goal and aim to get rid of hate speech, hate groups and the financing of hate groups."

Chiasson says his client, who didn't have any contact with her brother since 1991, is not interested in the money.

But when she learned it had been willed to the National Alliance, she felt compelled to act, he said.

Earlier this week, she obtained an ex parte injunction. The court order temporarily blocks the estate from being distributed or transferred out of New Brunswick.

Not interested in the money

McCorkill, 64, of Ottawa, declined to comment on Thursday about the will dispute.

In an affidavit filed with the Court of Queen's Bench in Saint John, however, she said she and her brother had a "tiff" around 1979 over his "financial assistance" of her.

He had lent her "some money" to attend the New England School of Art and Design in Boston, she states in the sworn document.

But their relationship started to deteriorate prior to that, according to the affidavit.

"We were on very good terms until 1978 when his attitude changed for reasons I never did understand," she said.

In 1978-79, she shared an apartment with her brother in Ottawa, where he had worked as a professor at Carleton University. He also helped get her a job at Bondar-Clegg and Company Ltd., where he also worked, she said.

By 1991, however, they had completely lost touch. She didn't even realize he had moved to New Brunswick.

"To the best of my knowledge Robert never married and never had any children," she said.

She believes her other brother is living in western Canada.

Initial estimates pegged McCorkill's collection, parts of which have been exhibited in Saskatoon and Ottawa, as being worth up to $1 million.

But probate court documents obtained by CBC News showed McCorkill's estate willed to the National Alliance is valued at about $250,000, with about $89,000 in outstanding liabilities.

That leaves about $161,000 for the white supremacist organization, which is based in West Virginia.

The collection includes Greek and Roman coins that are thousands of years old, an ancient Iranian sword, Neolithic arrowheads and an Egyptian stone tablet from the 13th Dynasty, according to a 55-page appraiser's report from August 2010.

The matter is expected to be back before the courts on July 31 for a hearing on the continuation of the order.