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Allegations against Legislative Assembly clerk mount up

The clerk of the Legislative Assembly Tim Mercer has been accused of abusing his power and creating a toxic work environment.

The accusations come from several GNWT staffers, including chief electoral officer Nicole Latour, and Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh MLA Steve Norn.

Norn says reports of Mercer’s behaviour have gone on for 14 years.

“It is time for this abuse of power to come to an end,” he said in a press conference on Monday. “We owe our staff and each other justice and must hold the clerk accountable for the toxic legacy he has created within the walls of this building.”

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A headshot of Mercer. (Supplied by the Legislative Assembly.)

Norn called for Mercer’s resignation and a full investigation to be conducted, with the report from the investigation to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

“The people of the Northwest Territories deserve transparency,” he added.

Speaking with Cabin Radio, Mercer said he denies any wrongdoing and says past investigations have shown allegations against him to be unfounded. 

But he adds he will accept a “fair and impartial review” of his conduct.

In a statement, The NWT Legislative Assembly’s Board of Management said they were aware of Norn’s concerns and April Taylor, a GNWT staffer who filed complaints about Mercer’s behaviour on February 11, 2021.

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The statement says the board only became aware of Latour’s complaint on Friday, February 12th, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. while the Legislative Assembly was in session.

When Norn’s complaints were brought forward to the board, they recommended mediation. But after three sessions of mediation between Norn and Mercer, “the mediator reported to the Speaker that the mediation was unsuccessful.”

Yellowknife’s Steve Norn. (Supplied by : CBC’s Canada’s Smartest Person.)

“Given that mediation was unsuccessful, the Board met on Friday, February 12, 2021 to consider this issue, and they heard from Mr. Norn,” the Board of Management said in its statement. “The Board is determining what next steps to take in regards to all of these matters.”

As clerk, Mercer is responsible for a variety of the legislature’s operations and holds the same level of authority as a deputy minister.

The board issued a separate statement about Latour’s letter. In her letter, Latour wrote she was upset about the decision to open her position as chief electoral officer to other candidates, having been in the position for six years.

In a statement, The Board of Management said they “routinely seek expressions of interest” when term limits end for similar positions.

“The Board of Management made a unanimous decision to seek expressions of interest for the position of Chief Electoral Officer,” the statement read. “The Board rejects Ms. Latour’s suggestion that there was interference or improper considerations when reaching this decision.”

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