NWT MLA Steve Norn charged over alleged isolation violations
Steve Norn, the MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, has been charged under the NWT’s Public Health Act for alleged violations of the territory’s Covid-19 isolation rules.
According to court documents, Norn faces two charges of failing to follow pandemic-related orders from the territory’s chief public health officer: namely to isolate from other persons.
Norn was charged by Covid-19 enforcement officials on Monday. The charges were first reported by CBC on Tuesday.
The allegations against Norn have not been proven in court.
In late April, Cabin Radio reported Norn had entered the NWT’s Legislative Assembly building on April 17, a full day before his self-reported isolation period was due to expire. Norn had previously come forward to state he was among those who had tested positive for Covid-19 in Yellowknife. He said he had isolated as instructed from April 4 to 18.
In an interview with the CBC in May, Norn reportedly admitted breaking his two-week isolation period after returning to the territory following travel to Alberta for what he described as a family emergency.
Residents of the NWT are not prohibited from travelling outside the territory, but are currently required to isolate for 14 days once they return. Individuals who are fully vaccinated can leave isolation earlier if a Covid-19 test on their eighth day of isolation comes back negative.
Norn is currently being investigated by the NWT’s integrity commissioner following a complaint from other MLAs regarding “public allegations” against him. Complaints to the integrity commissioner can result in a range of consequences including a fine, suspension from the legislature, or even a recommendation that an MLA’s seat be declared vacant.
Norn was removed as chair of the legislature’s committee on accountability and oversight following a vote among other regular MLAs. The committee did not state the reason for that removal, other than to say it “took this step to ensure that its focus remains on keeping the government accountable.”
Public reaction toward Norn’s alleged isolation breach has been mixed. While the Yellowknives Dene First Nation has called for Norn to resign, Chief Louis Balsillie of the Deninu Kue First Nation in Fort Resolution – Norn’s home community – has spoken in favour of the MLA.
Norn has publicly said he will not resign from his elected position. He was not present during the most recent week-long sitting of the NWT legislature.
Norn is scheduled to appear in territorial court regarding the public health charges on June 15.
Cabin Radio approached Norn for comment but was unable to reach him.