Victory for Roberts

Court says MLAs should determine compensation

Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Oct 25/02) - A Supreme Court Justice has ruled former Conflict of Interest Commissioner Carol Roberts should be compensated for unfair process resulting in her dismissal.

Roberts was fired based upon recommendations last October by a special committee of MLAs appointed to investigate allegations of bias against Roberts and the secret recording of phone calls to her by Hay River MLA Jane Groenewegen.

Roberts sued the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly for wrongful dismissal.

She sought a declaration that the commissioner acted unlawfully in the revocation of her appointment as commissioner, reinstatement as conflict commissioner, and compensation for lost income and legal costs.

Justice John Vertes handed down his decision Wednesday, and put the matter right back into the hands of the Legislative Assembly.

"...I think there is, in the absence of cause or incapacity, demonstrated through a fair hearing, an obligation to compensate the applicant for her economic losses as a result of her removal from office.

"I think the dignity of the legislative assembly demands nothing less...," Vertes wrote in his decision.

Vertes didn't specify damages, but ruled MLAs must decide how to compensate Roberts.

Vertes dismissed the proceedings against NWT Commissioner Glenna Hansen, but ordered the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly to pay Roberts' legal costs.

Yellowknifer did not know at press time how the matter would be brought before MLAs.