The next premier of Newfoundland and Labrador will be announced on Monday, as two candidates are vying to replace provincial Liberal Party leader Dwight Ball. CP photo

N.L.’s next premier will be announced today as Liberals elect new party leader

The party is hosting a leadership convention in St. John’s

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The next premier of Newfoundland and Labrador will be announced on Monday, as two candidates are vying to replace provincial Liberal Party leader Dwight Ball.

The party is hosting a leadership convention in St. John’s where the results of the vote that began last week online and by phone will be revealed.

Candidates Andrew Furey and John Abbott are in the running to replace Ball, who is stepping down.

Neither Furey, a physician and charity founder, nor Abbott, a former civil servant and CEO of the provincial branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, has held elected office before.

The winner will take the stage Monday evening at the St. John’s Convention Centre but none of the Liberal caucus will be there.

Only 50 people will be allowed inside the venue due to restrictions aimed at preventing the potential spread of COVID-19.

Ball is scheduled to make remarks virtually from Deer Lake, N.L., on the island’s west coast.

The Liberals said last week that despite the challenges of running an election during a pandemic, thousands more people had signed up to vote compared to the last leadership contest in 2013.

More than 34,000 people were eligible to vote and over 15,000 votes had been cast by Friday afternoon, Michael King, the party’s executive director, said in a statement.

Abbott has raised concerns that some registered voters did not get the PIN they need to participate in the election, while others could not get through on a voter help line.

He said the party should consider extending the vote due to those difficulties.

But the Liberal Party said any issues with the voting process ”are isolated, expected, and are being addressed as they arise.”

After the next premier is sworn in, he is required by law to call a general election within a year.

Both Abbott and Furey have said they aren’t in a rush to trigger a vote before the end of 2020, saying they will consult with the other two party leaders in the legislature to choose a date.

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