Charles Murphy seeking legal advice on rejection of leadership nomination

Cory Hurley cory.hurley@tc.tc
Published on July 10, 2013
Charles Murphy of Irishtown-Summerside is making a second attempt at the provincial Liberal leadership race. Murphy previously sought the leadership in 2011.
Cory Hurley

CORNER BROOK  Liberal leadership hopeful Charles Murphy is crying foul over the rejection of his nomination.

The Irishtown-Summerside man filed his papers by Friday’s deadline, he said, surpassing the 50 signatures from 10 districts required to make his campaign official. However, it appears the businessman fell short of the requirements when it came to the $10,000 fee.

Murphy filed a personal cheque for $5,000. He says it was his understanding that was the amount required. Even as of Tuesday morning, he was claiming the rules were that $5,000 — with no specification on payment method — was needed by Friday. He said he was familiar with the process from previously running for the leadership, and had no problems then.

But the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador’s website clearly defines the first two $5,000 instalments — or a lump sum of $10,000 — of the total $20,000 fee was due by nomination deadline. It also states payment could be made by certified cheque or money order.

Murphy had a courier deliver his papers shortly after 4 p.m., less than an hour before deadline. He said there is nowhere in the nomination papers that outlines the type of cheque or payment that has to be made.

Last week, leadership hopeful Dwight Ball said competition is “healthy” when discussing the campaign between the five candidates — Jim Bennett, Cathy Bennett, Paul Antle and Danny Dumaresque.

Murphy scoffed at the choice of words.

“The only candidate they had in there who was going to stand up for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador was me,” he said. “I know exactly what is going on in this province. I travel the province, and I know what is happening in the districts.”

He claims the Liberal Party wants to keep Ball in the position, describing him as a “figurehead.”

“He is like that thing on the Dodge pickup, the crown of a lamb,” he said. “That’s all.”

Murphy said he should have been contacted if there was an issue, and that he provided his cell and home numbers.

Murphy claims one of the approved candidates was given an extension to prepare his nomination papers, but provincial party president Judy Morrow said everybody was given the same opportunity. She said there was nothing personal in the committee’s decision to reject his nomination.

She said her experience with Murphy in the 2011 leadership race was a positive one.

“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with him,” she said. “He is a really good, honest, hard-working Newfoundland and Labradorian who is really supportive of the Liberal Party. Why would I ever want to refuse any particular individual?”

Although she would not discuss the specifics of the problem, she said his nomination was incomplete. While, the rules state there is a 48-hour window granted for incomplete nominations, she said the error was not a minor or technical one.

The president also said members of the rules committee tried vigorously to contact Murphy about the issue after receiving his nomination in the last hour before deadline — even to the point, she said, that the announcement of the candidates was delayed by about 20 minutes. They were unsuccessful in reaching him.

“Everybody has known about this leadership race for well over a year now,” Morrow said. “We developed a set of rules that came out in April. People were given more than ample opportunity to review the rules, call me, call the rules committee, for any explanation, help or assistance that was needed.”

She said if the nomination wasn’t received so late, there would have been more time to make the corrections or complete the papers.

There is an appeal process that Murphy can follow. Murphy said he has an appointment with a lawyer this week to see what legal options he has available to him.