Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby is facing a $4,000 fine for returning and then staying in Yellowknife as an evacuation order hung over the city in August.
Originally $7,500, the fine was reduced after Nokleby made a $3,500 charitable donation.
“The transgression is not to be taken lightly as it goes against the very principle of responsibility and public safety that we as elected officials are to uphold,” said Richard Edjericon, the MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh.
Integrity Commission David Phillip Jones said in a report issued Tuesday that Nokleby should be fined and reprimanded for breaching the Assembly’s code of conduct, and 16 of her fellow MLAs agreed.
Jones’s investigation was launched following two complaints he received in late August just after Nokleby returned to the capital, which was about a week after an evacuation order came into effect for the city. The commissioner said he might have also recommended suspension if an election wasn’t imminent.
Nokleby returned to Yellowknife on Aug. 25, claiming to have been designated an “essential” worker.
“People were angry,” said Julie Green, the MLA for Yellowknife Centre. “They were also in a place they didn’t find comforting.”
Earlier this week, Nokleby told CBC she was disappointed by the integrity commissioner’s decision that said she showed poor judgment by returning to Yellowknife during the wildfire evacuation.
“I regret leaving. I wish I’d listened to my gut and I had stayed, because I knew I could help,” she told The Trailbreaker.
Nokleby said she decided to remain even after being told to leave because she was in an “emotional tailspin,” which stems from her long battle with depression and anxiety.
“Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects many residents of the Northwest Territories,” said Yellowknife South MLA Caroline Wawzonek. “It affects many of my constituents, and it affects many of my constituents who were evacuated and abided by the order.”
Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson told the assembly that he stayed in Hay River, but was able to get on the list of essential workers. He thinks what determines an essential worker should get further studied by his colleagues.
Nokleby says she still plans to run again in the fall election.
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