Nfld. & Labrador

Westcott leaving Opposition office

The communications director of Newfoundland and Labrador's Liberal Opposition is leaving his post, just two months before a provincial election.

The communications director of Newfoundland and Labrador's Liberal Opposition is leaving his post, just two months before a provincial election.

Craig Westcott says he will return to working full-time on his two small newspapers, the Business Post and the Irish Loop Post.

"My commitment was to help [outgoing Liberal leader Yvonne Jones] and her team through to the election," Westcott said in an email to CBC News Monday night.

"Now that the leadership situation has changed, Yvonne has kindly relieved me from that obligation effective the end of this month, which facilitates an earlier return to my papers for which I am extremely grateful."

On Tuesday, Westcott issued another email to clarify that he had not resigned from his position.

"Yvonne has served me notice that my services will no longer be needed as of August 31. This facilitates an earlier transition back to my private life and newspapers," he wrote.

Westcott's hiring last October sparked a furore in some Liberal circles, as he had been an outspoken candidate for the federal Conservatives in the 2008 election.

The Liberal executive at the time made it clear in public that Westcott did not work for the party, but for the caucus in the legislature. The hiring also prompted one prominent member — consumer advocate George Murphy, who had applied for the job — to leave the party altogether. He is now a candidate for the NDP in the upcoming election.

Westcott had said he went to work for Jones in part to challenge then premier Danny Williams, whose policies he frequently criticized in print.

Shortly after he was hired, the premier's office released a letter that Westcott had earlier written, in which he asked if Williams suffered from syphillis or mental illness. Westcott later said the letter had been meant as a joke.

In a statement Monday, Westcott said he learned plenty from the experience of working in politics, and paid tribute to the caucus members and Opposition office staff.

"I am looking forward to returning to journalism much the better for the experience of the past year," he wrote.

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