Local MHAs applaud Kathy Dunderdale’s work
Kevin O’ Brien, MHA for Gander, called the resignation of Premier Kathy Dunderdale a dark day for the province.
© Telegram file photo
Kathy Dunderdale announced Wednesday her resignation as the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. Local MHAs applauded Ms. Dunderdale's efforts as premier.
“I was pretty close to the premier, and I knew this was a big possibility prior to Christmas,” O’Brien told The Beacon following the Premier’s announcement, referring to the low approval ratings of Ms. Dunderdale. “I knew it was possible she wouldn’t run in the 2015 election and that she would resign within the next six to eight months or so. It had nothing to do with Paul Lane crossing the floor. It’s just that presented an opportunity for her to go a little quicker than what she had anticipated.”
Dunderdale’s political record will stand as a testament to her efforts while in office, said the Gander MHA.
“She done the best she could for the province and now she’s doing the best she can for herself and taking care of her family. She’s accomplished more than any other premier during that time,” he said of her three years in the role of Premier.
Sandy Collins, the Tory MHA for Terra Nova, said while he was surprised, he wasn’t shocked at the announcement.
“We all seen this coming at some point but we didn’t expect it to be this quick,” said Collins. “After all the premier has been through the last few weeks, I just thought maybe it was for the best.”
The Terra Nova MHA agreed with O’Brien, saying Dunderdale’s record will stand as proof of her efforts toward building up the province.
“She’s done wonders for the province and served her time. It’s a sad day in one breath but on the other side it’s a day of renewal, and I think we’ll go from here to make the best of it.”
Tom Marshall, the minister of finance, will step up as the interim premier, and that’s a solid choice, agreed the MHAs.
“Tom is one of the capable people I’ve ever met in my life,” said Collins.
For now, the business is holding discussions and preparing for a leadership race, which is mandatory to take place within a year of a premier’s resignation.
“Dunderdale’s wishes are business as usual,” said O’Brien. “We’re going to have a cabinet meeting in the next little while and Tom Marshall will give direction to his cabinet ministers. We’ll go through a process now to choose a new leader and I’m sure there’s a lot of interest in that.”
Collins agreed and said he expects the leadership race to be a smooth sail.
“We’re going to look for a smooth leadership race,” he said. “How we conduct ourselves and how we go about the next couple of months will determine how we will fair in the next two elections.”
There have been controversial decisions made by the provincial PC party under Dunderdale’s watch, such as Bill 29 that allows government to have more control over what information is withheld from the public. Dwight Ball, leader of the provincial Liberal party, has been quoted as saying the bill undermines the public’s trust in government, but O’Brien stands by the legislation.
“I’m very comfortable with that piece of legislation. We lead the country in regards to openness,” he said. “Pretty well, all we protect is your personal information and proprietary information. The oil industry or mining industry or will not want to do business if we don’t protect the information.”
As for losing touch with rural Newfoundland and Labrador, O’Brien said all it takes is to have a look around to see what the current government has done for the province. The MHA said government has made efforts to secure the fishery of Newfoundland and Labrador, and that industry is based in the rural parts of the province.
“It’s not that long ago the plant was closed in Harbour Breton but now it’s one of most vibrant economic areas of the province.”
While the current government is focused on energy, oil and minerals, people from all parts of the province benefit from the revenue from those industries, he said.
“That’s one of the messages we have to get to the people that we are investing in rural Newfoundland and Labrador,” said O’Brien.
“I think we need to have a frank discussion to discuss why we were at that place in the polls,” he said, referring to the recent low approval ratings of the provincial government. “Obviously we’re got to try and connect with residents a bit better but that’s a conversation we got to have.”
Neither MHA will be running for the leadership of the party.
Collins says he hopes to retain his seat in the next provincial election, but O’Brien is deliberating.
“I’m looking at that,” said O’ Brien. “I want to continue to serve the people of my district. We’ve accomplished a lot in the district.”
Collins said, “I got plans to stick around for as long as I can. Of course, in this racket, you can only stick around as long as people want you to.”
The plan now, said the Terra Nova MHA, is to put the boat on the right course.
“I have high hopes and great expectations,” said Collins. “We just all have to make sure we keep focused.”