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Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie addresses supporters in St. John's, in a May 16, 2019, file photo. Crosbie says it’s 'reckless' for the Liberals to force a transition in the premier’s office during a public health crisis.Paul Daly/The Canadian Press

The Newfoundland and Labrador Liberal Party’s decision to carry on with a leadership election that will determine the next premier is being criticized by the official Opposition and one of the two candidates.

The Liberal party says the in-person convention will be cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the campaign and leadership vote will happen online and by phone, with the results announced May 9.

The election will decide the next leader of the provincial Liberals and the province after Premier Dwight Ball announced his resignation last month.

Progressive Conservative Leader Ches Crosbie says it’s “reckless” for the Liberals to force a transition in the premier’s office during a public health crisis.

Crosbie says the change would be unnecessarily disruptive to government and the public service, especially after the province declared a public health emergency on Wednesday.

John Abbott, one of two candidates in the running, says the decision is insensitive to the plight of residents who are grappling with the pandemic’s impact on their lives and unable to participate fully in an election.

Abbott says the party and his opponent Andrew Furey, who supported the decision, “have placed opportunism ahead of the overall public interest.”

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