Norn public hearing wraps up; lawyer argues MLA has ‘suffered’ enough

Steven Cooper, Norn's laywer, during the public hearing.

The public inquiry process has been enough punishment for MLA Steve Norn, argued his lawyer on the last day of the hearing.

Steven Cooper said Norn “has suffered mightily for his mistakes.”

Those “mistakes” include having broken isolation multiple times in April.

Throughout the hearing, Adjudicator Ronald Barclay heard that Norn broke isolation on April 8 to see his daughter briefly, again on April 17 to attend the Legislative Assembly, and on April 18 to go to the Racquet Club and deliver a parcel to a friend.

Norn’s isolation period was from April 4 to 18, inclusive.

Cooper chalked up these breaches to mistakes that ultimately had minor consequences.

Barclay must now decide whether Norn did breach the MLA code of conduct by breaking isolation and misled the public with inaccurate statements in the media thereafter.

Cooper said Norn got his isolation dates mixed up and believed he was done isolating when attending the assembly and the Racquet Club.

During the hearing, several people testified to how the isolation period calculation is done. Others testified they were confused about the calculation and communication from ProtectNWT was unclear.

After his isolation period ended, Norn tested positive for COVID-19.

On April 23, he released a public statement saying so. On the same day, he told Cabin Radio that he “followed all the rules.”

Cooper said Norn was unprepared for an early morning call from Cabin Radio and that he was very stressed, dealing with media, colleagues, and sick family members.

“There is hardly any form of pressure that Mr. Norn is not experiencing, including the fact that he’s now COVID positive,” said Cooper. He later added that Norn was “not in his right mind” at the time.

In early May, Norn admitted to CBC that he broke isolation when attending the Legislative Assembly.

“That’s what we want him to do,” said Cooper. “He’s recovering from his missteps.”

From slap on the wrist to losing the seat

If Barclay decies Norn did break the code of conduct, he can recommend several punishments, including: a reprimand, a fine not exceeding $25,000, that Norn be suspended from his position for a maximum of 30 days, make him pay costs, or that he even lose his seat as an MLA.

It will be up to the other MLAs on whether to follow through on the adjudicator’s recommendations.

There is no deadline for when the adjudicator must share his findings with the Speaker.

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