A confidential caucus agenda that was expected to be presented to MLAs Monday morning reveals more detail into how conclusions were reached in last month’s investigation of workplace conditions at the Office of the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.
The document also reveals that the price tag for the entire exercise was $380,000 with the largest portion — $142,125 — going to investigative contractors Quintet Corporation. Other expenses included $106,031 for sole adjudication and $71,000 for additional staffing costs. The remaining money went to reimbursement for legal fees of complainants Steve Norn, Nicole Latour and for Clerk Tim Mercer at $29,770, costs for law clerk services at $15,221, mediation at $14,265, and additional costs for the integrity commissioner at $11,760.
NNSL Media obtained a copy of the agenda, which spells out how hired Quintet came to the conclusion that the Office of the Clerk was not a toxic or poisoned one but one where interviewed staff had disparate views and experiences. The document also provides more detail into the investigative portion of the work, which looked into specific allegations from chief electoral officer Nicole Latour, former research adviser April Taylor, Tu-Nedhe Willideh MLA Steve Norn and a fourth unnamed person.
The contractors interviewed a total of 33 participants as part of the workplace review, which included 30 current and former employees plus three other “knowledgeable individuals.”
“Quintet did not investigate the veracity of the concerns raised by the participants,” notes the document. “For example, Quintet did not test the quality of the evidence gathered or assess participants’ credibility.”
Among the more alarming findings related to relations between the Office of the Clerk and interactions with the high rate of new MLAs in the 19th assembly. Interviewees reported MLAs not fully understanding their roles, which has led to tensions.
“Some participants described MLAs displaying behaviours that negatively affected their work; they noted that this situation has worsened since the beginning of the 19th Legislative Assembly, given that there were an unusually high number of new MLAs that were elected,” reads one finding. “These participants reported unacceptable or disrespectful behaviours on the part of certain MLAs, ranging from what they described as harassing behaviour in social settings to displays of anger when denied a request and unreasonable expectations about the staff’s work.”
The Office of the Clerk was also criticized in other areas, such as conflict of interest and staffing, as the clerk has the power to make direct appointments under Section 37 of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act.
“Some employees expressed frustration at seeing their ‘dream jobs’ filled with a direct appointment without being given the opportunity to be considered; this has resulted in resentment towards some of the appointees who have been referred to in some instances as ‘Tim’s Angels,’ with a few that they ‘can do no wrong.’”
Still other complaints included internal communications and adversarial relationships between clerks and other parts of the organization.
“It was described that an especially strained relationship exists between clerks and research advisers; this perception was held by most participants across different divisions within the organization,” the document states.
In other areas, however, the Office of the Clerk garners positive feedback from interviewees pertaining to pride among employees working for the office and in the legislative assembly, a sense of belonging and support in areas of career development. The clerk was also lauded for leadership aspects and inclusiveness for Indigenous peoples.