Adjudicator recommends Norn lose his seat as MLA

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

The sole adjudicator that oversaw the public hearing into the conduct complaints against Steve Norn has recommended the Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA lose his seat in the Legislative Assembly.

In a 191-page report, Ronald Barclay, a retired judge from Saskatchewan, wrote that Norn had “betrayed the trust and confidence of the public.”

He found Norn guilty of breaching Sections 2 and 8 of the MLA Code of Conduct.

Barclay determined Norn acted unlawfully when breaching the public health order that required travellers returning to the NWT to self-isolate for 14 days. The public hearing revealed Norn broke isolation a handful of times in April.

In doing so, Barclay said Norn brought the integrity of his position and the Legislative Assembly “into disrepute.”

Barclay also determined that Norn misled the public by giving “false statements” to public health officials and Cabin Radio in April.

Of the public health officials, Barclay wrote:

“These officials are the public’s first line of defence against the spread of COVID-19. These false statements affected the mandate of the public health officials and undermined their efforts.”

In early May, Norn admitted to CBC that he broke isolation, saying, “I’ll wear that… I’ll own that.”

During the hearing, Barclay heard from a public health investigator that said the investigation into Norn’s breach of isolation was “much longer, more complicated, and certainly at times, stressful and difficult.”

During the hearing, Norn said he did not deliberately mislead public health and that his isolation breaches were mistakes.

“Mr. Norn’s actions in deliberately misleading the public, particularly public health officials, make him unfit to remain as a member,” reads the report. Barclay adds that when taking all of the allegations together “expulsion is the only appropriate remedy.”

Now MLAs will have to decide whether to follow through on Barclay’s recommendations.

They return to the assembly on Nov. 22, at which point Speaker Frederick Blake Jr. must table a copy of the report. MLAs must then address the report within 15 sitting days of it being tabled.

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 francis@cklbradio.com