'I want to get back to work:' Steve Norn to run for former seat in byelection

Steve Norn — the first MLA ever to be expelled from the Northwest Territories legislature — intends to run for his former seat in Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh’s upcoming byelection, he confirmed to CBC News.

'I thought, you know what? If this many people want me to run again, I'll do it'

Former Northwest Territories MLA Steve Norn, who was expelled from the Legislative Assembly in November 2021, intends to run for his old seat in Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh's upcoming byelection. (Travis Burke/CBC)

Steve Norn — the first MLA ever to be expelled from the Northwest Territories legislature — intends to run for his former seat in Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh's upcoming byelection, he confirmed to CBC News.

In November 2021, Norn announced his resignation as MLA moments before the legislature voted to expel him.

This came after an independent adjudicator's report recommended Norn be expelled due to his actions in April 2021, when he broke COVID-19 isolation protocols and misled the public about it.

Other MLAs also said Norn had sent them threatening, intimidating messages during the course of that inquiry, though Norn said at the time those messages had been "all twisted out of context."

After he was expelled, Norn says he received an "outpouring of support" that convinced him to run again. 

"I thought, you know what?" he said. "If this many people want me to run again, I'll do it and I'll put the work into it. I think honestly, at the end of the day, it will be worth it." 

Norn says the past few weeks have been a difficult time for himself and his family, but he is feeling good about a return to electoral politics. 

"I want to get back to work," he said. 

A constituent decision

Though he has received significant criticism from other MLAs and public figures in his riding, Norn says the choice should ultimately come down to the voters, his former constituents. 

"There's always going to be naysayers and haters and that sort of thing — that's the nature of this profession," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're municipal, territorial, provincial, federal; you're going to be under a lot of scrutiny no matter where you go.

"And to my critics, I want to say that no matter which riding we're in, it's the electorate, the constituents, that will tell you if you're worthy enough to be there or not. They're the ones that make the ultimate decision. If the majority of constituents want you in there, then that's the way it should be."

Norn also says he would "gladly" work with his former colleagues as an MLA again, even after they all voted to expel him.

"A lot of them are professionals," he said. "They'll understand; they've got their own constituents to serve as well. And we have to just keep moving forward and try to make the North a better place .And that's ultimately what I've been trying to do this whole time." 

Commenting in November, Rylund Johnson, MLA for Yellowknife North, said that putting the choice of representative back into the hands of Norn's former constituents "is only fair."

"Should the member wish to re-run, and should constituents wish to vote him back into this house, that is possible," he said. "But we are handing the matter back to his constituents to make that decision. I think they deserve that right."

'Anything could happen'

If re-elected, Norn says his top priority issues haven't changed since he first ran for office.

"Housing, healthcare, cost of living [and the] economy," he said. "Those are still on the top of my list."

He also wants to focus on keeping more jobs in the North.

And with just over a month to go before the Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh byelection, which is scheduled for Feb. 8, Norn is optimistic about his chances.

"Honestly, I feel pretty good — but anything could happen," he said.

The election will be held exclusively by mail-in ballot. The deadline for potential candidates to declare their candidacy is Jan. 14. 

Written by Julia Peterson based on interviews by Avery Zingel.