A prosecutor from Vancouver is being hired to handle the public health case against Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn.
Last week, Norn was charged under the NWT’s Public Health Act with two alleged violations of the territory’s Covid-19 isolation rules. He’s alleged to have failed to isolate from other people on returning from travel outside the territory.
On Tuesday morning, Norn was scheduled to make his first court appearance on the charges.
During a busy docket day in NWT territorial court, seats outside the courtroom were filled with people waiting to appear before the judge. The MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh was not among them.
Yellowknife-based legal aid lawyer Charles Davison appeared before Deputy Judge Bernadette Schmalz on Norn’s behalf. Accused persons do not have to appear in court if they have a lawyer acting as their agent.
Davison told the court Norn plans on hiring a lawyer from Edmonton to represent him on the charges.
Crown prosecutor Roger Shepard said a lawyer from Vancouver will be handling the prosecution’s case against Norn, due to conflicts of interest among NWT lawyers.
In late April, Cabin Radio reported Norn had entered the Legislative Assembly building in Yellowknife on April 17, a full day before his self-reported isolation period was due to expire. Norn had previously publicly stated he was among those who had tested positive for Covid-19 and said he had isolated at home as instructed from April 4 to 18.
In May, Norn reportedly admitted to the CBC he had broken isolation.
The charges against Norn have not been proven in court.
Norn is also being investigated by the NWT’s integrity commissioner following a complaint from other MLAs regarding “public allegations” against him.
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.”
Norn’s next court appearance on the public health charges is scheduled for July 13.
James O’Connor contributed reporting