The provincial government has wasted no time in signaling its intention to overhaul the Elections Act.
The first order of business following today’s Speech from the Throne was a notice of motion from Government House Leader Steve Crocker to introduce Bill 1, an Act to Amend the Elections Act 1991. The motion is largely symbolic as the process could take years and would hinge largely on current challenges before the court.
Premier Furey indicated soon after his cabinet was sworn in that Justice Minister John Hogan’s first course of business will be to overhaul the Elections Act. Serious questions about the existing legislation were raised during the most recent election due to problems encountered as a result of the pandemic and the shift to mail-in ballots.
Defeated candidates have now come forward to take Elections NL and Chief Electoral Officer Bruce Chaulk to court in three separate actions. They include Alison Coffin in Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi, Jim Lester in Mount Pearl North, and Shiela Fitzgerald in St. Barbe-L’Anse aux Meadows.
Lane Calls for Independent Investigation
Independent MHA Paul Lane says he’s not blaming Chief Electoral Officer Bruce Chaulk for the election snafus, but he comes close.
Lane is calling for an independent investigation into the 2021 election, saying he now has zero confidence in the democratic process. He stopped short of calling for a public inquiry, where commissioners are prevented from assigning blame. Rather, he wants an open public process involving all parties.
Lane, who easily won his seat, insists he’s not blaming anyone yet, but he notes that Chaulk was in charge and said he could hold a pandemic election but failed, adding he has to answer for that.
Lanes notes Chaulk also holds other high offices, such as the Commissioner of Legislative Standards for all members. He says he would be shocked if all MHAs didn’t support such an investigation for the sake of democracy.