Legislative assembly clerk Tim Mercer will be returning to work next week.
An email circulated to members of the legislative assembly on Oct. 7 informed them that Mercer is to be reinstated on Thursday, Oct. 14. The email was shared with NNSL Media.
Acting clerk Glen Rutland “will spend the next month or two working with Mr. Mercer on some special projects in the Office of the Clerk,” states the correspondence, sent by Corinne Kruse, assistant to the Office of Speaker Frederick Blake.
The email doesn’t elaborate on the “special projects.”
Mercer’s reinstatement follows a months-long workplace review and investigation by Quintet Consulting Corporation into allegations against the Office of the Clerk.
NNSL Media asked Nicole Bonnell, manager of public affairs and communications, to confirm Mercer’s return but she refused to “comment on personnel matters.”
In an email on Oct. 6, however, she said he was on leave.
The Oct. 7 message to MLAs follows an in-camera meeting with the legislature’s Board of Management that was held on Oct. 4 concerning a personnel matter.
NNSL Media was unable to get confirmation from the legislative assembly whether the personnel matter pertained to Mercer.
“That matter was dealt with in-camera pursuant to Board of Management policy. All members of the board were present for the meeting,” Bonnell stated.
She added that regular Board of Management member Jackie Jacobson, MLA for Nunakput, declared a conflict of interest to the matter on the agenda.
Bonnell would not say why the conflict of interest was declared.
NNSL Media reached out to some MLAs by phone on Thursday afternoon seeking confirmation that the message about Mercer’s return was received.
Only Kevin O’Reilly could be reached by phone.
“Sorry, I’m not gonna speak to you, Simon,” he said before abruptly hanging up.
Motion to suspend a member
NNSL Media was also provided with a Sept. 16 email that Rutland sent to a clerks-on-the-table listserv, with a subject line “Motion to suspend a member,” which asked clerks from jurisdictions across the country for a draft motion to suspend an MLA.
“If your institution has within the last five years debated a motion to suspend a member (or some of their privileges), could you please let us know, and if possible provide a copy of the motion or direct us to where we can find it,” Rutland wrote.
Bonnell was asked about the correspondence between Rutland and clerks and whether a draft motion to suspend a member had been received by the clerk’s office.
She said the clerk’s office doesn’t comment on advice that may or may not be provided to MLAs and doesn’t comment on procedural advice that might be provided to members.
“The legislative assembly has the inherent right to discipline members, and this includes suspension, the details of which would be set by the House,” she stated in a Sept. 17 email.
She added that the assembly is not aware of any sitting member that has been suspended before at the NWT Legislative Assembly.
Mercer did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Oct. 7, prior to press deadline.
The Oct. 7 email also indicated that Michael Ball is to continue as deputy clerk of house procedures and committees, while Jennifer Franki-Smith will continue as manager of committees and clerk of journals when Rutland returns to his regular duties.
“I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Rutland for his work over the last eight months and all of the employees (of) the Office of the Clerk who have continued their professional support and service to members during these challenging times,” Kruse writes.