Norn absent from first day of hearing; lawyers debate whether to postpone

Steve Norn confirmed he and a family member have contracted COVID-19. (Francis Tessier-Burns/CKLB)

The first day of the hearing for MLA Steve Norn was mostly lawyers arguing whether the process should go ahead at all.

The hearing started at 10 a.m. without Norn on the virtual call. His lawyer, Steve Cooper, said Norn had “an emerging medical condition” that prevented him from being there.

The man overseeing the hearing is a former judge from Saskatchewan named Ronald Barclay. He decided to give Norn until 2 p.m. to prove he was sick by getting a doctor’s note.

That didn’t happen.

Barclay noted that Cooper wrote 19 letters on Norn’s behalf over the summer demanding the hearing be delayed for various reasons.

“All of this leads me to the inescapable conclusion that Mr. Norn’s non-appearance is simply a further delay tactic that I will not countenance,” said Barclay.

Another request for delay

Following the entering of exhibits, Cooper argued once again that the hearing should be postponed entirely because he did not have time to go through all the documentation.

He said he continued receiving documentation making a case against Norn — including an affidavit received the same morning the hearing began — and that he did not have enough time to prepare a proper defence.

“There has been a suspicious intent… to have this matter heard this week,” said Cooper.

He explained that the “voluminous” amount of paperwork received over the summer and up until the hearing did not allow for him to properly prepare.

Barclay’s lawyer Maurice Laprairie countered by saying the information was provided in a “fulsome” and “timely” manner. He suggested that had Cooper not sent the 19 letters requesting delays, he could have been better prepared.

The hearing is scheduled to start again Tuesday at 9:30. At that time, Barclay will decide whether to proceed with the hearing or postpone it further.

The hearing is a result of a complaint filed against Norn by Caucus Chair Rylund Johnson.

Johnson filed the complaint on behalf of all MLAs after it was reported that Norn allegedly went into the Legislative Assembly when he was supposed to be self-isolating in April.

Norn is also facing charges in court related to this alleged breach of the public health act.

About the Author

Francis Tessier-Burns
Francis has been a general news reporter with CKLB since January 2019. Originally from rural Ontario, he first came to the NWT in 2016 as an intern with Up Here magazine and fell in love with the North. In his time with CKLB, he's had the immense pleasure and honour of learning about northern Indigenous cultures. Otherwise, you can find him hanging around the Legislative Assembly. If you have a story or want to chat, reach out to