Steve Norn, MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, will hold a virtual press conference this afternoon, Nov. 18, but at least one Northern media outlet won’t be taking part.

Or will it?

A short announcement from the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories indicated the video call with reporters would take place at 4 p.m. There was no other information offered.

The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Ronald Barclay, the “judge” who held the inquiry into the conduct complaint against Norn, released his disposition recommending Norn be ejected from the Legislative Assembly and his seat vacated.

But Cabin Radio was initially disallowed from taking part. Ollie Williams, Cabin’s head of programming and news, reported Thursday afternoon that Legislative Assembly communications manager Nicole Bonnell informed a journalist with the outlet of the decision in an email in response to their request for the login details to the conference.

“Mr Norn has advised that he does not want Cabin Radio to attend today’s press conference,” Bonnell wrote, according to Cabin. “Please reach out to him directly if you would like to request a comment.”

Reached by phone, Williams said he wasn’t commenting on the decision. But minutes later, he confirmed with NNSL Media that the ban had been rescinded.

Forget the press conference, Norn could be banned from the legislature

In his closing remarks at the end of the hearing, Norn’s defence lawyer, Steven Cooper, argued his client was under extreme stress during the period of 2021 under scrutiny, April, when he returned from a trip to Alberta and visited the Legislative Assembly and a Yellowknife gym before the end of his 14-day isolation period. He said Norn should face a reprimand and nothing more.

Read more: Norn accused of threatening colleagues in group message

Read more: Health investigators colour-coded Norn timeline to keep his story straight

Barclay rejected that argument, writing Norn breached “every aspect” of sections 2 and 8 of that code by violating his Covid-19 isolation protocol then misleading MLAs, public health investigators, members of the media and the public about it.

“Mr. Norn has betrayed the trust and confidence of the public contrary to (section 8) of the Code of Conduct,” he writes on page 87 of his report. “Mr. Norn’s actions fall far below the standard set out in the Code of Conduct.”

Barclay wrote that the only “appropriate remedy” is for MLAs to expel Norn from the Legislature and declare his seat vacant.

Click here to see the sole adjudicator’s disposition report

It’s up to MLAs what happens to Norn next. They could fine him up to $25,000, a penalty Cooper warned would be “ruinous” to Norn, suspend him from the Legislature or eject him permanently as Barclay recommended. They are obligated to deal with Barclay’s recommendation within 14 days now that it has been delivered to the Speaker of the House, Frederick Blake Jr.

The Legislature will be back in session Monday, Nov. 22.

Craig Gilbert

Craig is an award-winning journalist who has worked in Ontario, the Northwest Territories, British Columbia and Alberta. He should be at least six feet away from you at all times.

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