Dunderdale ‘honoured’ being elected province’s first female premier

Staff ~ The Telegram
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Kathy Dunderdale couldn’t help but wonder what her grandmother and great-grandmother would say about her being elected the province’s first female premier.

“Til 1925, a woman couldn’t even vote in Newfoundland and Labrador,” she told supporters at the Delta Hotel in St. John’s.

Dunderdale said she felt honoured and privileged with her election.

She offered her service to the province, and pledged to work tirelessly to ensure it achieves its full potential.

Dunderdale told reporters she was sorry to lose three seats in St. John’s, including cabinet minister Shawn Skinner in St. John’s Centre.

“I’ve lost a very good minister and St. John’s has lost a very good MHA.”

Dunderdale promised to be fiscally responsible and hoped to get Prime Minister Stephen Harper acknowledging the province’s legitimate hopes and needs.

She said her first priority is choosing a cabinet, followed by getting to work on next spring’s budget.

“It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks.”

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Kevin Aylward said he’s not making any statements right now about his future as leader of the party following his defeat in the district of St. George’s-Stephenville East.

What he was focussing on Tuesday night was the fact the Liberals held on to Official Opposition status and that the party will be rebuilding.

“I assumed the leadership of the Liberal Party on Aug. 15, and I knew it was uphill, I knew it was going to be a difficult task,” Aylward said. “There's a lot of challenges in this province.

“We did get issues out there about the fishery, we did get issues out there about rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and it wasn't about trying to get a divide on the go, it was about saying what it is.”

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(Earlier story)

Canadian Press - ST. JOHN’S — Kathy Dunderdale made history Tuesday by becoming the first woman elected premier of Newfoundland and Labrador as she led the Progressive Conservative party to its third-straight majority government.

The victory also allows her to step from the shadow of the legendary Danny Williams nearly a year after he left office.

“I was involved in his government for eight years and I learned many lessons from him,” Dunderdale, 59, said earlier in the day after voting.

“And, you know, I put those to good use but ... it’s a new day and it’s a new team and it’s important that we have the look and the feel of what it’s going to be for the future.”

Dunderdale easily won her St. John’s-area riding of Virginia Waters.

The Opposition Liberals started the campaign saddled with a $600,000 debt and a last-minute leadership change. Kevin Aylward took over from Yvonne Jones in August when she suddenly stepped down to focus on her recovery from breast cancer.

Aylward, 51, a former provincial Liberal cabinet minister, campaigned hard on two key messages. He believes rural Newfoundland is being left behind, and that the $6.2-billion Muskrat Falls hydro deal in Labrador is a bad bargain that will raise light bills and pile on provincial debt.

But his message did not sway voters, including those in the western riding of St. George’s-Stephenville East, where he lost to Education Minister Joan Burke.

Aylward is the second Liberal leader to fail to win a seat in as many elections.

Led by Lorraine Michael, the NDP campaigned on a promise to impose a three per cent surtax on the province’s lucrative offshore oil sector and redistribute that wealth to pay for improved health services. That position stoked some controversy on the campaign trail, particularly after she admitted she didn’t seek a legal opinion before committing to it. But she stood by her share-the-wealth message.

“I think we were visible, we were focused,” said the 68-year-old former nun after she cast her ballot. “People knew exactly where we stood on issues.”

Michael was re-elected in her downtown St. John’s riding of Signal Hill-Quidi Vidi.

Dunderdale ran a classic front-runner’s campaign without any major gaffes or outlandish promises. She found herself fending off opposition attacks over the viability of the Muskrat Falls project, her ties with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the plight of the province’s rural outports, but they did not stick.

She is the fourth incumbent provincial premier to get re-elected this fall. And since she took over for Williams last December, three other women have also become premiers.

Going into the campaign, the Tories held 43 seats in the legislature compared to four Liberals and one New Democrat.

 

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Early poll results indicate a PC majority government elected under the leadership of Kathy Dunderdale.

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The polls have closed for the 2011 Provincial General Election and Telegram and other Transcontinental Media reporters and photographers are out in force throughout the province to bring you live, informative reports from many districts.

Check out the live feed, click HERE.

Check out district by district results HERE as they are reported on the official Elections Newfoundland and Labrador website.

According to Elections Newfoundland and Labrador, there are 1,717 polls in 48 electoral districts, which will be reporting results during the evening.

The advance poll results and the Special Ballot results will be included in the election results released tonight.

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Recent comments

  • Eli
    October 11, 2011 - 19:30

    Not surprising to me a lot of PC victors were outgunned by the combination of their opponents. Hopefully some of 'em get the message and represent their constitutents rather than toeing the party line.