Yellowknife is ripe for the picking if you’re a lawyer, or maybe a private eye.
Investigations involving the territorial government are popping up faster than spring flowers.
We have the NWT Health and Social Services Authority (NWTHSSA) looking into complaints from employees at the 50 Street day shelter and sobering centre. Some insist that the working conditions are unsafe and they need improved access to crisis intervention training.
Health Minister Julie Green assured that once the investigation is complete, NTHSSA will share information with the public.
Spokesperson David Maguire quickly seemed to set expectations lower by pointing out that personnel matters, client information and other protected materials may limit what the authority can release publicly following the probe.
Yellowknifer won’t be seeking to shame individuals by name, but will certainly be pushing for answers to how staff complaints are being resolved. Any explanations short of that won’t be adequate.
Over at the legislature, there are a couple of firestorms that must be quelled.
One is whether Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn entered the legislature on April 17, a day before his self-isolation period was supposed to end. On April 23, Norn publicly disclosed that he and a family member tested positive for COVID-19 after returning from a trip to Alberta earlier in the month. A caucus of MLAs – Norn’s peers – are referring the matter to the NWT’s integrity commissioner for investigation.
The chiefs in Ndilo and Dettah – Ernest Betsina and Ed Sangris – part of Norn’s constituency, refer to his recent actions as “reprehensible.” They say they’d like to see him leave office. Meanwhile, Fort Resolution Chief Louis Balsillie – also part of Norn’s riding – remains squarely behind the MLA. While Norn’s choices may be deserving of a reprimand, his missteps would be a result of “human error,” according to Balsillie.
For his part, Norn said on Tuesday that he has no intention to resign.
The other soupy situation simmering at the legislative assembly is a review into allegations that clerk Tim Mercer created a toxic work environment.
Ottawa-based investigative firm Quintet has been contracted to delve into that affair. It’s the same group that produced a report on Governor General Julie Payette’s controversial conduct in the workplace. Payette resigned Jan. 21.
The cost to NWT taxpayers for the legislative assembly investigation here is expected to be as high as $160,000. A final report into the Mercer probe is expected by the end of June.
Among those levelling accusations against Mercer is Norn, who now has his hands full with another aforementioned ordeal.
Hopefully residents of our fair city are able to keep up with this flurry of investigative activity. This newspaper will do its best to stay on top of the latest developments in all this officially-authorized scrutiny, which, while necessary, strikes us as a sad state of affairs.
Some good work has been done by the 19th Legislative Assembly, a crop of relatively new and inexperienced MLAs. And the pandemic has saddled the entire world with unprecedented circumstances.
We’re all playing the hand we’ve been dealt. But all of this time and energy devoted to copious internal reviews and sundry investigations is most definitely hindering the much badly needed progress traced by the list of 22 priorities those MLAs set at the beginning of their term, which even after all that’s happened, was still less than two years ago.
Hopefully these fires will be put out to the satisfaction of the parties involved soon enough that some more good work can be done before election season (which will or won’t be overseen by another party to that Mercer controversy, Nicole Latour) sweeps back in to the NWT like an early winter in 2023.