The embattled MLA for Tu Nedhé - Wiilideh, and the N.W.T.'s chief electoral officer issued a statement Friday, via a lawyer, calling the investigation into complaints about the clerk of the N.W.T. "irrelevant" and "a by-product of a dysfunctional and corrupt system."
Steve Norn and Nicole Latour were two of four complainants whose allegations against legislative clerk Tim Mercer led to an investigation by Ottawa-based Quintet Consulting. Norn's complaints, along with those of two others, were deemed unfounded in the investigator's report dated Aug. 20 but released Thursday.
The unusually lengthy and detailed statement, shared with CBC News by Edmonton-based lawyer Steven Cooper, disputes the notion that Mercer has been "vindicated" and said that Mercer's "ill-considered public statement consists of gas lighting and misstatements of fact."
The statement alleges the investigators ignored much of Norn and Latour's complaints, and painted Latour's concerns as largely about "racism," while ignoring other allegations. It said the description of individuals who came forward "both in number and nature is inaccurate," and that the investigators failed to follow up with witnesses Norn and Latour suggested.
It also said that the investigator's report paints Mercer's office as a "divided workplace" lacking "unity," and fails to accurately describe that as "toxic."
Within the statement, Edmonton lawyer Steven Cooper is quoted suggesting that the investigators lacked understanding of the Northwest Territories, its government and its culture. "There is a huge number of retired Northerners with the necessary expertise and northern gravitas to do the job. I'm left [to] wonder who hired them and why?"
Latour makes a similar point: "Through my two discussions with Quintet I had a sense they were having difficulty grasping, in a consensus style government, how an independent office should interact with the government," reads a quote attributed to her.
"The problem is not with any one individual, Mr. Mercer or otherwise," the statement reads. "The problem is with a system that has lost its way. Consensus government relies on personal and professional characteristics that have long departed the Legislative Assembly."
The statement directs all further questions to lawyer Cooper.
Norn is currently facing charges under the territory's Public Health Act for allegedly failing to complete the then mandatory 14-day isolation period after traveling out of the territory. He is also facing an inquiry ordered by the legislature into whether the alleged breach of COVID-19 rules amounts to a violation of MLAs' code of conduct.