Steve Norn, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh has retained a lawyer in his dispute with Tim Mercer, House clerk.
Steven Cooper of Cooper Regel Law issued a news release on Thursday on behalf of Norn stating that he will be representing the first-term MLA in “all matters” involving Mercer.
This will include but not be limited to a dispute the two are having before the Integrity Commissioner.
On Feb. 15, Norn held a news conference at the Legislative Assembly calling for a third-party investigation into the conduct of Mercer.
Cooper reiterated some of the points made by Norn this week, including that the member’s desire to fight what they describe as bullying and what he believes is a toxic workplace at the Legislative Assembly.
“Mr. Norn views the complaint as an effort to hinder his efforts to address longstanding issues within the Assembly operations,” Cooper stated.
“He will not be deterred, not by the malicious complaint not by other actions being pursued behind the scenes.”
On Tuesday, the Legislative Assembly confirmed that Mercer is on paid leave.
Norn’s dispute with Mercer follows last week’s revelations of two complaints alleging harassment against Mercer from staff working under the clerk. Nicole Latour, NWT Chief Electoral Officer and April Taylor, legislative assembly staffer.
Mercer has denied those allegations.
The Board of Management announced on Feb. 17 that it would be moving ahead with a workplace assessment of the Office of the Clerk in a statement on the Legislative Assembly website.
Katie Weaver, manager of public affairs and communications stated in a Feb. 18 email that further details are yet to be decided.
“The next step is to identify who will conduct that assessment, the terms of reference and the timeline,” she stated. “The assessor will report to the Board.”
Accountability and transparency
Cooper stated that Norn will continue in an effort for more accountability and transparency from the territorial institution.
“No officer, indeed no member, is bigger than the Legislative Assembly itself, although there may be those who have lost a sense of decorum, appropriate behaviour, protocol and place within our democratic system in the Northwest Territories,” Cooper wrote.
Cooper stated that because the dispute is before the Integrity Commissioner, “comments will be somewhat muted,” noting that Norn has been pleased with the response by the Assembly’s Board of Management, which oversees operations at the legislature.
“The Board of Management has taken appropriate steps toward understanding the existence and prevalence of abusive, disrespectful or manipulative behaviour involving staff, peers, and members alike,” Cooper stated.
“Mr. Norn joins the Board of Management in recognizing and commending all of the good work undertaken by staff at the Legislative Assembly, particularly in light of an increasingly difficult work environment.”
Similar to Norn’s presentation on Monday, Cooper said the MLA is calling upon past or present employees from the Assembly to reach out to the law office if they have had difficult experiences with Assembly officers and staff at 1-800-994-7477.
People can also send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All information will be treated as privileged and confidential as the law allows, Cooper states.