While N.W.T. Great Slave MLA Katrina Nokleby 'made an error of judgment' in some of her communications targeting Shane Thompson, a fellow MLA and minister, the territory's integrity commissioner has dismissed a complaint lodged against the Great Slave representative this week.
"In my judgment not all of Ms. Nokleby's communications cross the line from acceptable political rhetoric so as to constitute harassment," wrote Integrity Commissioner David Phillip Jones in a 13-page decision, published Friday.
"I am satisfied that Ms. Nokleby made an error of judgment in the content and tone of some of her communications, but did so in good faith."
Thompson, the MLA for Nahendeh and the minister for Municipal and Community Affairs as well as Environment and Climate Change, submitted the complaint against Nokleby in June. He claimed Nokleby "engaged in a pattern of harassing behaviour" meant to belittle and embarrass him. He pointed to emails and social media posts as evidence, which were not included in the integrity commissioner's decision.
In her submission to the integrity commissioner, Nokleby argued those issues were legitimate political critique of the "ongoing failure of Cabinet (including Minister Thompson) to address fundamental issues of transparency and accountability in the N.W.T."
Nokleby claims she's 'direct and to-the-point'
In her response, Nokleby acknowledged her "direct and to-the-point manner" of communicating might not be well-received by her political colleagues but said the social media posts constituted legitimate political speech.
In his decision, the integrity commissioner wrote that he "fully understand[s] why Mr. Thompson is irked by the content and tone of Ms. Nokleby's criticisms," and agreed with Nokleby's own assertion that she could be more thoughtful about the tone of her communications.
But Jones ultimately ruled Nokleby's posts did not constitute harassment or a serious violation of the members' code of conduct. He also said that because the current government is about to be dissolved pending an election, it would not be worthwhile to refer Nokleby and Thompson to mediation.
However, Jones did recommend that if Nokleby and Thompson serve together in the next legislative assembly, they should consider voluntary mediation to improve their communication.
The integrity commissioner also suggested that all members of the next legislative assembly should get a training workshop on appropriate social media use.