ontario news watch

Report finds no justification for firing man behind chaotic N.L. pandemic election

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The man behind Newfoundland and Labrador’s topsy-turvy pandemic election is getting his job back after a report found there wasn’t enough evidence that he had fumbled the vote.

Bruce Chaulk was suspended in June from his job as chief electoral officer pending an independent review of a report from the province’s citizen’s representative, which alleged he mismanaged the 2021 provincial election.

Former provincial chief justice Derek Green was chosen to review the report, and he found its claims were not substantiated and did not justify firing Chaulk.

Instead, Green was critical of the report itself, saying it blamed Chaulk for institutional failings, and that nobody should assume, “even casually,” that its allegations are true.

Green said three of the report’s 10 claims of gross mismanagement — one about nepotism and two about pre-election planning — could possibly justify suspending or removing Chaulk, but only if they were proven in a fair hearing, which never happened.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s 2021 election was sideswiped by a February COVID-19 outbreak in St. John’s, which prompted Chaulk to cancel in-person voting and shift to a makeshift mail-in ballot.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2022.

The Canadian Press