Nfld. & Labrador

Fired due to her tweets, Windsor Lake NDP candidate vows to speak truth to power

Kerri Claire Neil says losing her job spurred on her political ambitions to hold the status quo to account.

Kerri Claire Neil up against Paul Antle and Ches Crosbie on Sept. 20

Kerri Claire Neil is the NDP candidate in the upcoming Windsor Lake byelection. (Kerri Claire Neil/Twitter)

It took losing her job for Kerri Claire Neil to realize how much she values speaking her mind — and how much she wanted to continue doing so.

"I was called into the office last week, and told I was dismissed. And it wasn't because of my work ethic or my attendance, but because I had a political, critical Twitter profile," said Neil, the newly minted NDP nominee for the district of Windsor Lake.

"That was really hard and humbling to hear, but I think it really set me on a different career path. I decided my strong opinions are a valuable asset that others would appreciate."

Her Twitter bio describes her as a feminist and social economist, and Neil is very active on the platform, tweeting about everything from Indigenous rights to criticism of Muskrat Falls. Neil declined to specify her former employer, beyond saying it had been a "cool" non-governmental organization, and that she had been in a probationary period.

 "I know a lot of NGOs feel pressure from the government to not criticize the government, which I actually don't think is good for our democracy. I think there's a lot of problems when we don't hold our government to account," she said.

"That's why I'm running, because I think the people of this province deserve an MHA that represents them and is not afraid to speak truth to power and can be held accountable."

Ches Crosbie, left, is running for the PCs, while Paul Antle is the Liberal candidate. (CBC)

Say no to the status quo

Neil is running against two well-known names in provincial political circles: Paul Antle for the Liberals, and PC Leader Ches Crosbie. But Neil, who is currently completing a master's degree in sociology and has a background in economics, welcomes the challenge.

"I don't see much different between them, besides maybe they wear different-coloured ties," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"I think they both represent the status quo. And I, as well as the people of the province, know that the status quo has not been working for us. We need fresh ideas and new solutions." 

Neil promised to represent those who don't often see themselves on the ballot, such as young people or women. The Windsor Lake byelection was triggered by former finance minister Cathy Bennett's resignation, and Neil said she was disappointed when Bennett stepped down.

"Windsor Lake has this incredible history of electing strong, smart women into the legislature, and I hope to continue that legacy. I am that strong, smart woman," she said.

The byelection is set for Sept. 20.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show.