Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland fought off tears Monday as he apologized to MLAs for an extramarital affair with a legislature clerk that he kept secret last year.
Roland made the apology in response to an assembly report that found the premier to have been in a conflict of interest by not immediately disclosing his affair with Patricia Russell, who was then the assembly's principal clerk of committees.
"To the people of the Northwest Territories, I apologize because I made a decision for myself first," Roland told the assembly on Monday afternoon.
"By my choice" he said, then was silent for 17 seconds before continuing,"I caused pain to those I care most deeply about."
And in that choice, adjudicator Ted Hughes concluded, the premier breached the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act. Hughes's report was tabled on Friday.
Hughes ruled that Roland's "error of judgment was one made in good faith," and therefore he did not recommend any penalties or punishment against him.
Conflict of interest alleged
According to Hughes's report, Roland told Speaker Paul Delorey about his relationship with Russell in November 2008, months after the relationship began.
The affair not only changed his family life — he was a married father of six — but also prompted six MLAs to file a complaint alleging that Roland was in a conflict of interest.
Some of the MLAs argued that Roland and Russell may have shared legislative committee secrets, since Russell sat in on MLAs' in-camera committee meetings when she was clerk.
Both Roland and Russell denied sharing such information when they testified at a public hearing in October.
Hughes concluded that Roland "failed to maintain public confidence in his integrity, objectivity and impartiality" of the legislature as the result of his relationship "without timely disclosure of that relationship."
'My heart has gone out of this job': MLA
MLAs voted to accept Hughes's report and its conclusions on Monday, saying they just want to move on.
But Hay River South MLA Jane Groenewegen, who was one of the MLAs who filed the complaint, suggested the controversy has changed her too.
"I sincerely regret the day that I supported Premier Floyd Roland in his bid for premier. My heart has gone out of this job to some extent. It may never come back because I was proud to be a member of this assembly. I find it hard to come in here now," Groenewegen told the assembly.
"I cannot come in here anymore with that same enthusiasm because of what we've allowed to happen," she added. "I'm sorry. I only have two years to go, and I will not run again."