Delay of interim Greene report casts doubt on its validity, says former team member
Union leader Mary Shortall, who resigned from the team in January, doesn't buy pandemic as reason for delay
A former member of Andrew Furey's economic recovery team says the delay of its interim report is emblematic of the problems she had with the panel's process.
Mary Shortall, president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour, says she wasn't surprised when Moya Greene, who heads the premier's team, announced on the weekend that the report, which was due Sunday, would not be ready by then.
"It's not a secret that I felt that the process was problematic right from the beginning, and it's been even more so during the election campaign. It's been a concern and a focus for many people," Shortall told CBC News.
In a surprise media briefing Saturday, Greene called the deadline a "notional date," and cited the pandemic and renewed lockdown as reasons the report would not be ready in time. Greene said the decision to delay had nothing to do with the ongoing provincial election.
Shortall — who resigned from the team in January, citing a lack of transparency and what she said was a flawed process — said the public is keen for information, especially during an election cycle amid a pandemic. And while the premier has said there will be consultations after the so-called "Greene report" has been tabled, Shortall said that with the election still undecided, it's no surprise there's no interim report yet.
Delay calls report into question: Shortall
Shortall is skeptical about the pandemic being a reason for the delay, noting that the process began during the pandemic. The only thing that did change, she said, was the election being called.
"Calling a last-minute press conference on a Saturday, and on the day before the interim report was due, to say that it's going to take between four and six weeks, I think what that did was it called into question the legitimacy, really, in the eyes of the public," she said.
"With those goalposts being moved, the new timelines, for whatever reason, have made it a little bit more convenient for a government that's waiting to be elected. So people are really nervous. They still don't have answers."
WATCH | Mary Shortall discusses the delayed Greene report with Here & Now's Carolyn Stokes
Despite Greene calling Feb. 28 a "notional" deadline, Shortall said when she was appointed to the team, members weren't given any other timeline in the public terms of reference.
"That's the terms that we had been working under when I was there, and that did say that the interim report would be given to government at the end of February, and the final report at the end of April," she said.
Shortall said having an election called in the middle of the process, especially at such an uncertain time for voters, has made people suspicious.
"It's the process, and the response, and the questions not being answered that have made people very suspicious, and no wonder: no matter what, when an announcement is made the day before it's due — whether it's expected or not — it's got people even more nervous about what's going to happen."
Shortall said she doesn't know what will be in the report, but said with the delays and lack of transparency people may be more wary than usual of harsh cuts.
"History has told them that they will bear the brunt of austerity measures," said Shortall. "The fact that it hasn't been very transparent and there's not a lot of discussion around it makes people think the worst."
With files from Here & Now