N.W.T. Speaker defends investigation into clerk

·2 min read
Frederick Blake Jr., Speaker of the Northwest Territories Legislature, said the two complainants dismissed the conclusions without having read two other documents prepared by the investigators but not yet released by the legislature's board of management. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Frederick Blake Jr., Speaker of the Northwest Territories Legislature, said the two complainants dismissed the conclusions without having read two other documents prepared by the investigators but not yet released by the legislature's board of management. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Speaker of the N.W.T. legislature said he's "disappointed" two of the four complainants have "dismissed outright the conclusions" of an investigation into allegations of harassment and misconduct of legislative clerk Tim Mercer.

Frederick Blake Jr. said the two complainants — Steve Norn, MLA for Tu Nedhé - Wiilideh, and Nicole Latour, the N.W.T.'s chief electoral officer — dismissed the conclusions without having read two other documents prepared by the investigators but not yet released by the legislature's board of management.

Blake explained that the board of management, which ordered the investigation and hired Ottawa-based Quintet Consulting to conduct it, issued the investigators' summary report last Thursday, which included their findings that three of four complaints, including Norn' and Latour's, against Mercer were "unfounded."

On Friday, Norn and Latour issued a statement through their lawyer, Edmonton-based Steven Cooper, calling the investigation "irrelevant" and "a by-product of a dysfunctional and corrupt system."

Blake said that while the board would have preferred to release the workplace review and investigation reports at the same time as the summary report, he said the unreleased documents need to go through a confidentiality review before being released "to protect the privacy of third parties."

He added the board released the summary finding "to address inaccurate information circulating."

"I am hopeful that the release of the redacted reports will provide clarity for the parties involved as well as staff, the public, and the media," said Blake in the statement.

Blake declined to do an interview with CBC News.

In a previous story, CBC reported that Blake's personal Facebook page refers to Mercer as "my buddy" and includes several photos that show Blake helping Mercer with home renovations, getting ready to go boating on Mercer's sailboat, and relaxing with Mercer on his deck.

As clerk, Mercer is responsible for advising MLAs on the rules of the Legislative Assembly as well as their pensions and benefits. He also provides advice and written statements to the Speaker on issues, such as points of order arising during sittings of the legislature.

Mercer remains on leave until "next steps are considered by the board of management," according to Nicole Bonnell, the Legislative Assembly's manager of public affairs and communications.

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