As he taxis towards the launch of his new career in the House of Assembly, George Murphy is about to shut the meter in his cab off for the last time.
St. John’s best-known taxi driver, who has gained a provincewide following for his accurate gas price predictions, will pick up his last fare later tonight or early Sunday morning.
“For at least four years, anyway,” Murphy says with a laugh.
The amiable cabbie won the St. John’s East seat in Tuesday’s provincial election, a New Democratic upset over Tory incumbent Ed Buckingham.
It was third time lucky for Murphy. He ran for the Liberals in the same district back in 2003, and for the NDP in the Conception Bay East-Bell Island byelection last December.
“I’m starting to get back to the ground (from the high of being elected),” he said Thursday.
His victory may have surprised some, but it wasn’t a shock to Murphy and his campaign team.
“About seven or eight days before the ballot, we came to the realization that we think we had (Buckingham) cornered, and we think that we have the numbers to beat him then.”
Murphy says everything happened fairly quickly because an Aug. 17 car accident had delayed him from getting out of the campaign gate.
“I went at it as hard as I could and endured the pain. There were a couple of little barriers we had to overcome, but we prevailed in the end.”
And while the win means he won’t be driving cab in the forseeable future, Murphy may still keep predicting gas prices, as long as there is no rule prohibiting an MHA from doing so.
“All of the resources I’ve been using so far have been free resources,” he notes.
“They haven’t cost the taxpayer, and it’s not costing anybody anything by me digging up free information.”
Given his understanding of gas pricing, Murphy hopes to tackle the issue of fuel taxation in the House. Currently, HST is charged after federal and provincial gas taxes — a tax on top of a tax.
“You expect your government to treat you fair under proper taxation rules, and you would expect to be paying taxes, but not to be paying taxes on top of taxes,” he says.
“Yes, we’re going to have a tangle with government before we get that one straightened out.”
Murphy says he’s always been a bit of an advocate, so he doesn’t expect being an elected politician will change his life dramatically.
“Other than just dealing with people one-on-one,” he said.
“It’s going to be an honour, a real honour, to possibly change history in some cases, and to do something positive for people.”
NDP leader Lorraine Michael says it’s going to be wonderful to have Murphy as part of her caucus.
She says he brings an understanding of trying to make life affordable for people and, through his gas pricing predicitions, he has shown an ability to do analysis.
“George is very knowledgable, but more than that — and I think more important than that — I think George is a very caring individual,” she said.
“He really cares about people and I think he’s going to show his constituents how true that is in the way he responds to them.”