The five-person board of management at the NWT Legislative Assembly says it is now figuring out what to do about a range of allegations levelled against the assembly’s clerk.
Tim Mercer is accused of spending more than a decade abusing his authority, harassing both staff and MLAs, and creating a toxic work environment. Mercer denies any wrongdoing, says past investigations have shown allegations against him to be unfounded, and says he will accept a “fair and impartial review” of his conduct.
Among those alleging harassment by Mercer are a committee advisor at the legislature, chief electoral officer Nicole Latour, and Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn.
As clerk, Mercer runs most aspects of the legislature’s operations and holds the same level of authority as a deputy minister.
Mercer answers to the assembly’s board of management, which comprises Speaker of the House Frederick Blake Jr, Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson, Kam Lake MLA Caitlin Cleveland, and government ministers Diane Archie and Paulie Chinna.
Norn, making a statement to reporters on Monday morning, accused the board of inaction despite concerns about Mercer’s conduct being repeatedly raised.
In a news release issued on Monday afternoon, the board itself said it was “determining what next steps to take” in relation to the various complaints made against Mercer.
Regarding Norn’s complaint, the board said a mediator had tried and failed to settle differences between the MLA and Mercer. The board said it had heard from Norn on the matter on Friday, February 12. A week earlier, after three mediation sessions, the board said the mediator had reported an inability to reach an accord.
The board said it was informed of committee advisor April Taylor’s complaint about Mercer – a letter Taylor also provided to the CBC – on Thursday, February 11. The board said it became aware of Latour’s complaint, as reported by NNSL, on Friday.
Those complaints were discussed by the board on Friday evening. It’s not clear if any decisions were taken.
“The board remains focused on the management of the Legislative Assembly and will comment further when appropriate,” Monday’s news release concluded.
By email on Monday, Mercer told Cabin Radio the allegations against him were “seemingly coordinated” and said it was his job to make decisions that may prove unpopular.
“I tell it like I see it and that has the unfortunate effect of ruffling feathers. But I am paid handsomely to give fearless and expert advice,” Mercer wrote.
“I will subject myself fully to a fair and impartial review of these allegations, but will not break and bend to a coordinated attack without an opportunity to respond in a properly managed process, rather than a public shaming or media circus.”