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Firm that investigated Governor General's office to look into allegations against N.W.T. Assembly clerk

cbc.ca logo cbc.ca 2021-03-02 Richard Gleeson
a house covered in snow: Some employees in the Northwest Territories Legislature says it is a toxic working environment. They allege the clerk of the legislature, Tim Mercer, bullies staff. One of the workers is calling on MLAs to fire him. © Richard Gleeson/CBC Some employees in the Northwest Territories Legislature says it is a toxic working environment. They allege the clerk of the legislature, Tim Mercer, bullies staff. One of the workers is calling on MLAs to fire him.

The board of MLAs that manages the Northwest Territories legislature has hired the same company that investigated former Governor General Julie Payette's office to look into allegations of bullying in the clerk's office.

"Current and former staff of the Office of the Clerk, since the beginning of the 19th Assembly, will have the opportunity to speak voluntarily to the independent third-party firm," stated the Board of Management in a press release issued Tuesday morning.

The board has hired Ottawa-based Quintet Consulting Corporation, the same firm that investigated Payette's office last summer. That investigation included interviews with 92 current and former employees.

That investigation concluded that the office was a terrible place to work due to "yelling, screaming, aggressive conduct, demeaning comments and public humiliations," from Payette and an aide. Payette resigned in January after receiving a copy of the report.

Like that investigation, the one of the N.W.T. Legislative Assembly was triggered by allegations of bullying from current and former staff, many first reported by CBC News.

The staff allege that clerk Tim Mercer bullies and intimidates subordinates he does not favour, and is unable to control his temper. They say that in group meetings, he has berated and humiliated staff to the point of tears.

Investigation will look at events since October 2019

Though employees say bullying by the clerk has been going on for years, under the terms of reference set by the Board of Management, the Quintet investigation is limited to what has occurred in the clerk's office since Oct. 1, 2019, the start of this Legislative Assembly. Investigators are also restricted to talking only to staff who have worked in the office since the start of this assembly.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Tim Mercer, the clerk for the legislative assembly, went on leave, following public allegations of bullying and harassment. He denies the allegations. © CBC Tim Mercer, the clerk for the legislative assembly, went on leave, following public allegations of bullying and harassment. He denies the allegations.

In the terms of reference, the board says investigators will look into three allegations of misconduct related to "an employee of the NTLA (Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly)."

CBC News reported that one complaint was filed by current committee advisor April Taylor in a letter to the board last month. Another was filed by MLA Steve Norn.

Taylor was suspended with pay the day after she submittedaletter to the board, a copy of which she provided to CBC News, outlining her allegations of bullying against Mercer.

In a separate letter, deputy clerk Glen Rutland tells Taylor the suspension will continue to March, pending an investigation of allegations she violated her oath of confidentiality and other rules.

Rutland later confirmed that Mercer himself is "on leave," but would not say why or for how long.

Quintet is required to provide a report on its investigation to the Board of Management. The board gives no indication of any deadline for the report.

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