Former PC candidate forges on with election challenge, pivots to crab fishing to pay bills

·2 min read
Sheila Fitzgerald is representing herself in a Supreme Court election challenge, citing the high cost of lawyers. She's turned to a new way of making money after she lost a civil service job for sharing a racist Facebook post earlier this year. (CBC - image credit)
Sheila Fitzgerald is representing herself in a Supreme Court election challenge, citing the high cost of lawyers. She's turned to a new way of making money after she lost a civil service job for sharing a racist Facebook post earlier this year. (CBC - image credit)

A former Progressive Conservative candidate who lost in the district of St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows this spring entered Supreme Court in St. John's on Friday to argue Elections Newfoundland and Labrador failed to run a fair election.

"In my area, we have a large senior population. The internet is not always reliable," Sheila Fitzgerald told reporters, saying she had fielded a number of complaints from voters who weren't able to cast a ballot.

"Those people have a right to exercise their right to vote and to be heard. So I felt that was it was my responsibility to make sure that I at least give them the opportunity, win, lose or draw."

Fitzgerald's challenge is one of three cases challenging the unprecedented 10-week election, which was fraught with controversy over missing ballots that never made it to registered voters.

Fitzgerald is representing herself in this court challenge, citing the financial strain of hiring lawyers to deal with the legal process.

She also spoke to CBC News for the first time since she shared on her personal Facebook page a post, written by someone else, that included anti-immigrant rhetoric and made claims about Indigenous land rights and vaccines.

Fitzgerald apologized publicly for the post, and said she didn't read it in its entirety before sharing it.

She was removed as president of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador, and after losing the election, turned to a new job entirely in order to "get back up on my feet financially," she said, after an attempt to reapply to her old job with MNL was unsuccessful.

Fitzgerald, the PC candidate who lost in the district of St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows, now fishes for crab.
Fitzgerald, the PC candidate who lost in the district of St. Barbe-L'Anse aux Meadows, now fishes for crab.(Sheila Fitzgerald/Facebook)

Fitzgerald recently undertook a crab fishing stint with a crew from La Scie, after a fisherman offered her the opportunity, she said.

"I've never done anything like that before. I've always worked in an office job," she said.

"It was short-term work and it was great money. And so I said, why not? If it didn't work out, I could come off the boat. But surprisingly enough, I did a good job and and I really enjoyed it.

"Maybe it's going to be a career change. I don't know. But I certainly did enjoy the experience very much."

Fitzgerald returns to court in late June, after filing statements of claim.

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