A new chapter in the war of words between legislative clerk Tim Mercer, MLA Steve Norn and now-suspended chief electoral officer Nicole Latour played out Friday afternoon, Sept. 17.
Steven Cooper, who according to the release represents Norn and is “previous counsel” for Latour, issued a press release that claimed Mercer’s lawyers sent him a cease-and-desist letter dated Sept. 9 accusing his clients of defaming theirs. In it, Kristan A. McLeod of the Sherwood Park, Alta. office of Chivers Carpenter Lawyers writes that Mercer does not want to have any more direct contact with Norn or Latour.
McLeod cited individual CBC News and Cabin Radio articles posted on Aug. 27 and 28 respectively as including defamatory statements and issued the caveat that there could be more examples that Mercer is not aware of.
Reached over email Friday, McLeod was tight-lipped.
“Mr. Mercer intended that his statement upon the release of the Quintet investigation report would be his last public statement on this matter given that he accepts the findings of the third party investigator and is moving on. This further communication from Mr. Norn, Ms. Latour, and Mr. Cooper merits no response.”
Cooper had more to say.
“I would certainly welcome, I have confirmed with Ms. Latour and Mr. Norn that they would certainly welcome, an opportunity to explore that allegation (of defamation),” he said in an interview.”Or Mr. Mercer will give us that opportunity should he decided to commence an action for defamation. Do we think he has any chance of winning? No. Not at all.”
Undeterred by the notice from McLeod to “cease and desist from making, publishing or causing to be published statements regarding Tim Mercer that are untrue, defamatory, or derogatory,” Norn and Latour stuck to their guns with quotes provided in Cooper’s news release.
“I expressed my concerns about the conduct of the clerk and his office during the recent Quintet investigation,” Latour said. “My concerns were dismissed and disregarded. Until the relationship between the clerk of the Legislative Assembly and the elected members are normalized, true democracy cannot be said to exist in the Northwest Territories.”
Norn said in the release that he expects a more formal dynamic between the clerk and elected members of the legislature. He said Mercer, and now acting clerk Glen Rutland, talk to MLAs like they are employees.
“My complaint against the clerk of the Legislative Assembly’s office remains unresolved, and our government continues to be dysfunctional in its relationship with the clerk’s office.”