Steve Norn's case handed to outside prosecutor due to conflict of interest

·1 min read
Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn was charged with breaking COVID-19 rules. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn was charged with breaking COVID-19 rules. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The Northwest Territories Justice department has asked an outside lawyer to handle the case of Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn, who was charged with breaking COVID-19 rules.

Norn is facing two charges under the Public Health Act, both relating to failure to follow orders that he self-isolate.

During a brief appearance in N.W.T. Territorial Court Tuesday morning, justice department lawyer Roger Sheppard said the department is in a conflict of interest and so has handed the prosecution of Norn off to a Vancouver lawyer.

That lawyer, John Cliffe, used to be a Crown prosecutor in the North, but is now in private practice.

Sheppard said the department also needs more time to provide Norn with evidence it has gathered — a process known as disclosure.

Norn, who was in court for the appearance, said he needs more time to find a lawyer.

The charges stem from Norn's decision to visit the legislature during a mandatory 14-day period of isolation following a trip to Alberta in April.

Both charges were sworn by an officer of the COVID Secretariat on June 7. Previous fines under the Public Health Act for these kinds of violations have been $1,725. No fine was specified on either of Norn's charges, which means the officer felt specified fines were inappropriate.

Norn was previously removed as chair of the N.W.T. Legislature's standing committee on accountability and oversight in mid-May. He now faces an inquiry orderded by the territory's integrity commissioner.

The allegations against Norn have not yet been proven in court.

The case was adjourned to Aug. 3.

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