Yes, I’m going to offer my perspective on Premier Dunderdale’s angry scrum last week, in which she tore a strip off The Telegram newspaper for one of its editorials.
But before I go there, I think it’s a good time to let this out of the bag: last year, I apologized to Premier Kathy Dunderdale.
It was a written apology, dated January 7, 2011, and mailed to her office on the eighth floor of Confederation Building. At the time, she had been premier for just over a month.
Following is the complete text of that apology. I don’t need to elaborate on why I did this – the reasons are outlined clearly in the letter – but I think now is a good time to get this on the record, before I write anything about the premier. I had written a lot of highly critical things about the previous administration, and I wanted to get off to a fresh start with Premier Dunderdale.
January 7, 2011
Honourable Kathy Dunderdale, Premier
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
PO Box 8700
St. John’s, NL
Dear Premier Dunderdale:
Last year year, I wrote a Meeker on Media blog entry under the headline ‘Is Dunderdale Stupid?’
I am writing to apologize for that headline, specifically for the use of the word “stupid”, and to assure you that I will not use such language in the future.
If you read my blog (which is hosted at www.thetelegram.com), you already know that I am opinionated about local media, and the stories that appear there – including political stories. And I express those opinions quite strongly, from time to time. However, that headline was intemperate and unfair.
One of my strongest complaints about your predecessor was the way he lashed out, in a rude and insulting manner, at those who asked questions about public policy. In writing that headline, I was mirroring language frequently used by Premier Williams, in an attempt to show how public discourse can deteriorate if we all express ourselves so crudely.
That is what happened in this case, and you were an innocent bystander. There were valid criticisms to be made of the Abitibi situation, but I could have made those points without stooping to insult.
You have demonstrated a more temperate, conciliatory and even-handed approach to the issues, since becoming premier. Most importantly, you are able to debate policy without attacking the integrity or intellectual capacity of those who may disagree with you. My first reaction, on noting this, was relief. My second was a pang of personal regret, for writing that headline. I should not have insulted you, and I sincerely apologize for doing so.
In future, if I disagree with the policies of your government, I will say so. This will not change. In fact, I will continue to express my views strongly, and without compromise. However, I promise to debate the issues, not hurl insults – especially if you and your government continue to take the high road.
Congratulations on becoming our first female premier, and good luck in the future.
Meeker On Media