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N.L. Liberal party suspends leadership election campaign during pandemic

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball poses for a picture in his office at the Confederation Building in St. John's on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball poses for a picture in his office at the Confederation Building in St. John's on Tuesday, February 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Daly

The contest to replace Newfoundland and Labrador’s Liberal premier is being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, just days after the party declared it would continue online.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Nova Scotia now has 41 cases, including at least one child under 10

The party says the suspension will be in effect until at least May 1, after which it will be determined whether the situation has improved enough to set a new date for the vote, to be conducted online and by phone.

Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia says it will get tough on people ignoring social distancing
Coronavirus outbreak: Nova Scotia says it will get tough on people ignoring social distancing

Premier Dwight Ball announced his plan to step down last month, and the party was set to choose a new leader to replace him at a convention in May.

Under party rules announced today, the two candidates, Andrew Furey and John Abbott, are prohibited from accepting donations and campaigning, including interviews and social media posts about the race.

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The initial decision to continue was criticized by opposition politicians, some Liberal caucus members and by Abbott as insensitive to the needs of residents during the pandemic.

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READ MORE: Newfoundland detects 9th case of COVID-19, provides new support for parents and students

Ball said last week he would not have resigned if he had known the extent of challenges stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.