Furey pledges to release report detailing toxic workplace at Elections N.L.
N.L. government finally acknowledges existence of report accusing officer of House of Assembly of harassment
The Newfoundland and Labrador government is finally acknowledging the existence of a report accusing an officer of the House of Assembly of workplace harassment and bullying at Elections Newfoundland and Labrador.
Premier Andrew Furey said Tuesday the report landed on his desk at 4:45 p.m. Monday.
Furey said he will release the report but isn't sure when that will happen. He said he has asked the province's privacy commissioner, Michael Harvey, to redact any information necessary to protect the privacy of people mentioned in the report before its release.
"The report is about officers of the House and some allegations," he said. "I'm going to let the privacy commissioner scrub the report first to ensure that he's doing his due diligence and we're not violating any privacy issues with respect to the individuals in the report."
Furey said he took immediate action to make sure the report goes to the House Management Commission, chaired by Speaker Derek Bennett, where he thinks it best belongs within government.
The report has been the subject of public commentary since its existence was revealed by Independent MHA Paul Lane in May.
Lane told reporters he was contacted by a constituent who was subpoenaed by the provincial citizens' representative, saying the report details alleged workplace bullying and harassment at Elections N.L. following the 2021 provincial election. The report allegedly includes 10 findings and involves 21 employees.
Lane wouldn't identify the officer named by the report. The chief electoral officer in Newfoundland and Labrador is Bruce Chaulk.
Members of the province's opposition parties claimed Bennett had the report as early as April, but didn't table it in the House of Assembly. That was all but confirmed by Furey on Tuesday.
"My understanding is he's had that for a couple of months at least," the premier said. "Why he had it, why he didn't do anything with it, you'll have to ask him."
Furey reiterated said Monday was the first time he learned of the report's existence outside of the public commentary he had heard, saying he wasn't privy to the information previously.
Asked Tuesday when he learned of the report, Furey said, "Yesterday afternoon. Other than the public commentary and chirping in the House of Assembly? Yesterday afternoon."
Furey said he didn't see the report itself until Monday afternoon and doesn't know how Lane saw the report in May.
Justice Minister John Hogan said Bennett was also concerned about how the report's existence became public knowledge, writing a letter to Hogan with concerns about it being shared publicly.
"He didn't publicly disclose it, nor did he table it in the House of Assembly, so his concern was how did the public [know], why was the allegations out there that this report even existed," Hogan said.
- A previous version of this story said Premier Andrew Furey instructed the privacy commissioner to examine the report and redact information. In fact, Furey said he asked the privacy commissioner to do that.Jun 09, 2022 1:43 PM NT
With files from Jeremy Eaton