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NWT legislature board expects ‘toxic workplace’ review update


The NWT legislature’s board of management will further consider allegations of a toxic workplace during a four-day meeting next week.

An independent review of the office of the legislature’s clerk was ordered in February after longtime clerk Tim Mercer was accused of abusing his authority and intimidating and harassing staff and MLAs. Mercer denies any wrongdoing.

Quintet Consulting has been carrying out that review. The status of the review is unclear. In a brief news release, the legislature said the board of management would meet in Inuvik from August 23-26 in part “to deal with matters relating to the workplace review and investigation conducted by Quintet Consulting.”

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The board’s five members are Speaker of the House Frederick Blake Jr, Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson, Kam Lake MLA Caitlin Cleveland, and government ministers Diane Archie and Paulie Chinna.

Their agenda for next week’s meeting does not specifically mention Quintet’s review, but does include a “legal matter” and “personnel matter.”

Both are expected to be discussed in camera, the agenda states, meaning behind closed doors. It isn’t clear whether the board of management intends to provide any public update on the review’s status or conclusions, if any have yet been reached.

Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn was among several individuals who came forward with allegations against Mercer at the start of the year.

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Norn said complaints of “abuses of authority and intimidation” in the clerk’s office stretched back 14 years and described Mercer attempting to “bully, demean and terrorize his subordinates and even threaten the wellbeing of elected members.” (Mercer says previous investigations into his conduct determined allegations against him to be unfounded.)

At a February news conference, Norn said the legislature had become “infested with an ethical rot.”

Norn is separately the subject of an inquiry into whether he broke the NWT MLAs’ code of conduct. He is accused by colleagues of failing to properly isolate after returning from travel and misleading the public.

A public hearing associated with that inquiry is scheduled for early October. A court case associated with Norn’s alleged isolation breach is ongoing. Norn has pleaded not guilty to two charges of failing to follow pandemic public health orders.

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