Andrew Furey won't say whether he'll reappoint Elections N.L. boss

Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Electoral Officer Bruce Chaulk's first term ends on Dec. 12. It's up to cabinet whether he'll serve another term.  (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Newfoundland and Labrador Chief Electoral Officer Bruce Chaulk's first term ends on Dec. 12. It's up to cabinet whether he'll serve another term. (Paul Daly/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Premier Andrew Furey won't say whether his government will reappoint Bruce Chaulk, the embattled head of Elections Newfoundland and Labrador, when his term ends next month.

Chaulk's stint as the province's chief electoral officer ends Dec. 12, but according to the Elections Act he can serve another six-year term — if cabinet chooses to let him continue.

But Furey says they're not ready to make a decision yet.

"I'm not going to comment on a particular person in a particular position," he said.

In an email, Elections N.L. said they also have no comment.

Chaulk has had a controversial term as head of Elections N.L.

He presided over the contentious 2021 general election — the longest and costliest in the province's history — which saw Chaulk cancel in-person voting the night before election day because of a COVID-19 outbreak and the mass resignation of Elections N.L. staff.

He was suspended with pay in June on the recommendation of the House of Assembly Management Commission based on whistleblower allegations of nepotism and workplace bullying, outlined in a report by the provincial citizens' representative.

Last month, Chaulk was reinstated after a review by former chief justice J. Derek Green, who criticized Citizens' Representative Bradley Moss's investigation and said the report did not clearly justify its 10 findings of gross mismanagement against Chaulk.

Green did, however, find that seven of those allegations warranted further action, and three of them could warrant his removal as chief electoral officer.

Paul Pickett/CBC
Paul Pickett/CBC

No apologies from citizens' rep

Meanwhile, a different report, published Thursday, cleared the citizens' representative of a separate allegation of gross mismanagement. A complaint alleged Bradley Moss mishandled sensitive information about his whistleblower-triggered investigation of Chaulk.

Anne Chafe, the commissioner of legislative standards, found Moss had revealed details about his investigation and report into Chaulk to one of the whistleblowers, who then shared the information with MHA Paul Lane. Lane made the information public during a speech in the House of Assembly.

In the report, Chafe wrote she found Moss "did not commit 'gross mismanagement' … but he exercised poor judgment when he provided the disclosed details to the whistleblowers. The consequences of this action contributed to personal and professional harm to individuals involved."

Chafe recommended Moss apologize in writing to Chaulk, to the Speaker and to the clerk of the House of Assembly, and develop new policies and procedures.

The report is now with the House Management Commission, which will decide what, if any, action to take.

Moss, though, says he won't apologize.

In a press release, the citizens' representative said "it would not be appropriate, nor is it necessary, to issue apologies."

"Doing so would undermine the independence of the citizens' representative and runs contrary to the very purpose of its statutory office and its statutory duty," said Moss in the release.

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