Veteran MHA says Dunderdale leaves behind a legacy of accomplishment
© Labradorian file photo
Harbour Main MHA Tom Hedderson.
As liaison between the premier and her caucus, Harbour Main MHA Tom Hedderson had arguably the best perch from which to gauge the level of internal support for Premier Kathy Dunderdale.
As such, Hedderson, the parliamentary assistant to the premier, makes it clear there was no groundswell from within the caucus, trying to push Dunderdale out of office.
“Not one caucus member ever asked her to leave. That speaks well for a strong caucus,” Hedderson stated during a telephone interview this afternoon, just hours after Dunderdale announced she is resigning as premier and leader of the Progressive Conservative party, effective Friday.
She has not indicated whether she will step aside as MHA for Virginia Waters.
Hedderson offered high praise for the departing premier, describing her as a “true champion” for the province, and an accomplished leader who has “laid a great foundation for future prosperity.”
“It’s a sad day for Newfoundland and Labrador,” he added. “We had what I considered to be an excellent leader.
“I will miss her, and the only thing I can say is I appreciate it was her choice, at a time of her choosing.”
So what went wrong? Her resignation comes a little over two years after Dunderdale — the province’s first female premier — led the PCs to a convincing election win in the fall of 2011, and at a time when economic growth in the province is leading the country.
Hedderson offered the following: “It’s a very challenging job to be premier, and of course, she had many challenges. To see her move on with the class she did today and with such a wonderful speech, I’m proud of her and happy for her.”
Hedderson pointed to a long list of accomplishments, including the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project, a trade agreement with Europe and the advancement of gender equity.
“She has left this province in the best shape ever,” Hedderson noted.
Dunderdale’s announcement is the latest political jaw-dropper in a province that has seen more than its share of upheaval and intrigue in recent months.
It follows the defection of Mount Pearl South MHA Paul Lane to the Liberals on Monday, and many months of declining public support for the premier and the PC Party.
With the Opposition Liberals surging in the polls, and many observers suggesting the sun has set on the PC stranglehold on power, Dunderdale’s resignation came as little surprise.
But Hedderson, a veteran MHA who has held a variety of cabinet posts over the years, said those writing the party’s obituary need to re-evaluate their thinking.
“We’re not resting on our laurels,” he said. “We’re one of the most envied province’s in the country.”
As for his political future, Hedderson said he plans to seek re-election in 2015, but noted he will re-evaluate his intentions as the election draws closer.
“I’m a great supporter of this party; of this government. We still have lots of things to do,” he said.