“I’m coming for you.”
That is a message from Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn, to other MLA’s in a caucus Facebook chat.
The 19th legislative assembly opened on Monday with complaints against the behaviour of Norn based on several threatening statements made before and during his conduct inquiry.
Some MLAs felt scared for the safety of their families, some debated on not travelling to Yellowknife to attend the assembly at all.
Thebacha’s Frieda Martselos led a point of privilege against Norn.
Simply, Martselos exercised a point of privilege that allows for an MLA to raise an issue on something or someone interfering with a member’s ability to fulfill his/her role as an MLA – safely and without obstruction.
Norn, she said, “demonstrated a continuing pattern of threatening behaviour and undermines the dignity, integrity and effective functioning of the Legislative Assembly as whole, breaching all of our privileges as elected Members and undermining the democracy in the Northwest Territories.”
This motion is separate from the recommendations outlined by the adjudicator handling Norns’ isolation breach.
A majority of MLAs joined Martselos and supported her claims, one by one they shared their experiences with Norn threatening behaviour.
Norn seemed surprised with these statements as he said he prepared his notes ‘hastily.” in response.
“Removal from office is overkill and unprecedented,” he said.
Norn was apologetic and says he didn’t intend to threaten anyone.
“What I said was regrettable and I apologize for that. I wish I could take it back,” Norn said.
“I think we spent enough time on this that I — we just want to move on and continue on with our business,” he adds.
Housing, infrastructure gaps, covid-19 recovery and climate change were other hot topics at the meeting.
Remove regulations for NWT fishers
MLA for Kam Lake Caitlin Cleveland wants to put more power in the hands of NWT fishers.
She brought up that in order for the North to have a thriving fish market, selling regulations to the freshwater fish market corporation need to be removed.
She argues that the NWT is the only remaining jurisdiction still under the Freshwater Fisheries Marketing Corporation Act and those fishers looking to establish their own plant are limited under these regulations.
“Without creating access to new markets and retail channels that empowers certified fishers to sell outside the NWT without being penalized by existing legislation and regulations, fishers will struggle to revitalize this industry,” she said.
This is Cleveland’s first sitting at the legislative assembly.
Northern climate strategy
COP26 was an overall disappointment and NWT leaders struggle to develop a climate strategy.
“I was very disappointed with the lack of concrete progress and agreement,” says MLA Frame Lake, Kevin O’Reilly. “I’m going to make it easy for my cabinet colleagues and lay out a path forward on the climate crisis.”
First, he says “we need a reorganization of this government to clearly set the climate crisis as a priority and to establish the authority to deal with it.”
And he argues that a new Department should be instated to handle climate-related and environmental issues.
O’Reilly proposed ditching the last cabinet’s plan and instead focusing on “a carbon-neutral target of net-zero 2050 or even sooner if you dare, and you should.”