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N.W.T. integrity commissioner dismisses complaint against Nunakput MLA

The Northwest Territories integrity commissioner has found that Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson was not in a conflict of interest when he took part in a board of management meeting, then signed an affidavit that showed bias.

Integrity commissioner reminds MLAs to avoid conflicts of interest

The Northwest Territories integrity commissioner has found that Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson was not in a conflict of interest when he took part in a board of management meeting, then signed an affidavit that showed bias. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

The Northwest Territories integrity commissioner has found that Nunakput MLA Jackie Jacobson was not in a conflict of interest when he took part in a board of management meeting, then signed an affidavit that showed bias, in part because Jacobson says he signed the affidavit under pressure. 

The integrity commissioner has dismissed a complaint made the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly's board of management against Jacobson.

The complaint was filed after a board of management meeting in August. Jacobson is a member of that board, which oversees the operation of the legislature. 

During the meeting, the board discussed the investigation into allegations of inappropriate conduct by the clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Tim Mercer, as well as a complaint against then-MLA Steve Norn.

The board's decisions that day were all made unanimously.

After the meeting, Jacobson swore an affidavit saying he believed the inquiry into Norn was being driven by Mercer in retaliation for allegations of bullying Norn had made publicly. 

The affidavit was used as part of Norn's challenge to the inquiry that looked into whether he had breached the MLA code of conduct.

In its complaint, the board said the affidavit was a sign that Jacobson had aligned himself with Norn, but had failed to disclose his conflict of interest at the board meeting. 

But Jacobson told integrity commissioner David Phillip Jones that he had "serious concerns" about the affidavit.

Affidavit signed under pressure

Jacobson said while the details about the incident are accurate, it did not reflect his views about the Legislative Assembly or the staff who support his work. 

He also said he "regrets the difficulties which the affidavit has caused," and would not have signed if he had not been under pressure at the time. 

Because Jacobson was only contacted about the affidavit after the end of the relevant board meeting, Jones found that he was not in a conflict of interest at that time. 

"It undoubtedly would have been better for Mr. Jacobson not to have been involved in supporting an attack on the very process which he had been part of to deal with the issues involving Mr. Norn," Jones wrote in his report.

"It also would have been better for Mr. Jacobson not to have felt pressured into making a decision about this ... Nevertheless, I am satisfied that Mr. Jacobson's actions, regrettable as they were, were an error of judgment made in good faith."

Jacobson was not immediately available for comment after Jones's report became public.

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