Marine rescue centre sparks political fireworks

James McLeod
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All parties agree centre should be saved; argue over who’s doing enough to save it

Premier Kathy Dunderdale answers reporters’ questions Thursday following question period in the House of Assembly. Dunderdale fielded questions from both opposition parties and the media on the impending closure of the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s. — Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

It was the most intense shouting match this year in the House of Assembly, even though Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Liberal House Leader Yvonne Jones basically agreed on the issue at hand.

Jones and Dunderdale both want the federal government to reverse its decision to close the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s.

In question period Thursday, though, Jones said Dunderdale isn’t up to convincing Ottawa to change its mind.

Dunderdale fired back that the real problem is Liberal MPs who aren’t getting the job done.

“The only time we hear from them is on open-line shows here in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Dunderdale said.

“What kind of an impact are they having in Ottawa? That is what they are paid to do, Mr. Speaker; that is their job — do it.”

Jones fired back, “Face the reality, premier. Your efforts are not working with Stephen Harper and his government. Your efforts have not been able to deliver the services to the people of this province.”

It was nearly a year ago when the federal Conservative government announced it would close the Marine Rescue Sub-Centre in St. John’s and move its operations to Halifax.

The centre is now slated to be closed later this spring.

Following the announcement a coalition of groups, including both opposition parties, held protests and lobbied heavily to keep the sub-centre open.


Dunderdale and her government didn’t join the coalition, but she publicly objected to the closure, made her case directly to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and offered provincial money to help keep the centre open.

Jones has been asking about the closure of the sub-centre all week. Thursday, Jones called for an all-party committee to press the federal government.

Dunderdale dismissed that idea pretty quickly.

“I’m not particularly interested in an all-party committee,” she said. “I’m doing my job as premier of this province. What Ms. Jones wants me to do is her job and the MPs’ job as well, and I’m not interested in that.”

Dunderdale said she doesn’t see federal MPs — especially the Liberals ones that Jones campaigned for — doing enough to press the government in Ottawa.

“That’s all just a bunch of foolishness,” Jones said. “The decision is resting with the federal government — her cousins — the decision rests with the prime minister of this country, the same prime minister that she stood shoulder to shoulder with.

“Where’s the stronger working relationship, and where’s the influence that she should be having on the federal government today on behalf of the people of this province? It’s nonexistent.”

NDP MP Jack Harris happened to be in the House of Assembly galleries Thursday afternoon. He said he thought Dunderdale was “deflecting” the issue, adding that the NDP has been bringing petitions to the House of Commons on the issue “practically daily.”

Liberal MP Scott Andrews was also pretty dismissive of Dunderdale’s comments.

“We have been bringing this up  on countless occasions,” he said. “Jones must have hit a nerve with Dunderdale, and the best response she can drag up is to drag us into it? I don’t get that.”

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: Marine Rescue Sub-Centre, Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Liberal House, NDP House of Commons

Geographic location: Ottawa, Newfoundland and Labrador, Halifax

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Recent comments

  • missy
    March 23, 2012 - 20:54

    If the federal government will not provide use this protection we should use our own provincial money to develop out own system....We do not need Harper....we will not is not a privilege it is a right...Mr. Harper we may only be a small province but, as you know, we can be loud and we will not go away!!!!!!

  • Ben
    March 23, 2012 - 14:09

    No trouble to tell the underlying message behind Yvonne Jone's actions...rumour has it she will be running Federal next time around. She has to look like she is fighting for NL. Didnt fight too much when the old boys club kicked her out of the leadershipearlier in 2011. And didnt Dunderdale offer to pay the expenses to keep the sub center open? The Feds didnt want any part of it. What else do we expect her and the government to do?

  • Cyril Rogers
    March 23, 2012 - 13:56

    If both the government and the Opposition are united in their desire to see the MSRC stay open, the logical thing to do is to present a united front to Ottawa. Sending an all-party delegation to Ottawa, including the federal MP's, would send a strong message to Harper that we are united. Instead, the Premier's petty, spiteful demeanor in the HOA only reinforces the notion that she won't work with anybody in a collaborative way. She is arrogant and foolish to reject such an opportunity. It may not result in a change by Harper but, as long as we are divided, thanks to the Premier's childish approach, Harper is laughing all the way to the closure of the MSRC.

  • Eli
    March 23, 2012 - 13:39

    Just when we thought they had been put out to pasture Danny's lapdogs have resurfaced. Hedderson and O'Brian to the rescue. Between 'em they'd talk the leg off a horse and still say absolutely nothing. But the salaries can't be beat.

  • Don
    March 23, 2012 - 13:07

    The province has no control as to what the federal government does with its departments. So to blame the province is ludicrous. The liberals are just playing politics with this matter.

  • Harvey
    March 23, 2012 - 11:47

    The premier's incompetence was further enhanced yesterday when Marshall, Hederson and O'Brien took to the air-waves to defend her.

  • Mark D
    March 23, 2012 - 11:40

    Cracks are appearing in her ability to do the job with responses such as this one.

    March 23, 2012 - 11:08

    The politicians who we sent to Ottawa when we first became a province set the template of how we would be treated in future years. Ottawa had dreamed of acquiring the province of Newfoundland and Labrador into the Canadian Federation for 80 years before it was successful, that was from its inception in 1867. PM Louis St. Laurent welcome our province into the fold in 1949 with that very statement. Ottawa was quite aware of the importance of our province's landmass, its location and its natural resource base and how beneficial it would be for the New World Economy (21 Great Economies) that would emerge after the Second World War and, I am sure they were quite aware of where the acquirement of such a strategic piece of the Global landmass would place Canada ( it became one of the G8 Economies). Ottawa also knew it could put strategies into place where it could lure the resources of Newfoundland and Labrador away with the help from the Politicians we Newfoundlanders and Labradorians elected on our behalf to send to the Ottawa Parliament. Ottawa set up generous "Patronage" packages and it allowed the politicians who were successful in extracting a resource and having it sent off to other areas of Canada to create vibrant economs to benefit directly in that resource's development and not the electorate of Newfoundland and Labrador as a whole. We have been are paying for the sins of our forefather politicians ever since. Nothing will change for our province unless all of our voices, the electorate's and the politicians' of all stripes, are heard collectively. We have to let Ottawa know in no uncertain terms that we need reform on how they treat us from Ottawa. As it is now, matters are about to get worse for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as the 308 Member Canadian Parliament, where the province of Newfoundland and Labrador only holds 7 seats, is about to balloon by another 30 seats added with none of those appointed to Newfoundland and Labrador. WE HAVE TO TAKE A STAND ON DEMANDING REFORM FROM OTTAWA!

  • Graham
    March 23, 2012 - 10:57

    Its just like old Danny never even left..Kathy is just as arrogant and self centred as he was. I hope an ambulance is on standby at all time so they can help the Premier when she has a heart attack from all the yelling and screaming she does. This woman is setting a very bad example for all of us especially our children who we try to teach that being a bully is a bad thing and there she is OUR PREMIER the BIGGEST BULLY of them all.

  • Concerned Citizen
    March 23, 2012 - 10:51

    Once again can't answer the questions of the opposition, and HAS NO ANSWER BECAUSE SHE IS A MORAN.............AGAIN. Like one of the writers wrote, step aside useless PREMIER, so they say, and let someone else do the job THAT YOU HAVE SAID YOURSELF CAN'T DO. Grow a brain Kathy, you are the so called premier. You are the one people, SO SADLY VOTED IN, as the person to get those sort of things done for the province. But you choose to put your jobs on some else's shoulders because................YOU HAVE PROVEN YOU ARE NOT A PENNY THEY ARE PAYING YOU TO BE THE PROVINCE'S PREMIER.....................

  • Dave
    March 23, 2012 - 10:00

    How is that 2 people representing 2 parties can agree on an issue and still argue about it? Can you imagine the influence of a united approach to influence Ottawa's decision. If this message fines it's way to either Kathy or Yvonne please consider the value in standing up for this province together, move beyond the finger pointing and act like the leaders we need to see our province move forward.

  • holy smoke
    March 23, 2012 - 09:03

    Dunderdale fired back that the real problem is Liberal MPs who aren’t getting the job done...........Kate YOU are the are the elected party...the 'getting the job done' rests in YOUR court......Why is it that every damned PC blames their short comings on someone else...This IS the classic 'passing the buck'...It's not's them!! What a crock! It's YOU!!! Face it!!! harper has you in a corner..Squawk too much and he might not give you all that promised Muskrat falls dough!!

  • STann
    March 23, 2012 - 08:29

    What a disgrace this premier had become.. Took her 6 months to open the house, cause didn't know what to do.. Now she and her minions set back on their fat fannys and still can't find anything useful to do that whold help Nf & Lab. The subject of yesterday's question period is a typical example of her lack of knowledge on the matter. simply put she has done absolutely nothing to help with the centre closing in St, John's. And to blame the MPs from here further underminds her credibility... Labrador elected one of Harper's cronies and what does he do, but run and hide each time something needs to be done; until Harper gives him a few words to ssay. Guess Dud Dunderdale is still waiting for Harper to tell her what to say.. PCs of the HOA get off your duffs and do something....

  • Seriously
    March 23, 2012 - 08:26

    These clowns can play their political games all they want. These clowns know what we all know, that Harper doesn't care what the Liberals or NDP think or say. He has an even lower opinion of the provincial governments.

  • Joe it all
    March 23, 2012 - 08:00

    Steve hated NL even before Danny's infamous ABC Campaign. Then Cathy got in bed with the devil by campaigning with and for the Conservatives. Now after getting her ass burned yet again by Steve she is blaming the Liberal MP's for something she clearly has no influence over. WOW!!

  • Ranter
    March 23, 2012 - 07:21

    "Dunderdale fired back that the real problem is Liberal MPs who aren’t getting the job done" Well Premier, move aside and let the liberals take the helm since you openly admit you cannot do the job our province requires.

  • Darren
    March 23, 2012 - 07:18

    An all party committee will only be a waste of money as Steve has already made up his mind. That is all.

  • Cabinet IS the Government
    March 23, 2012 - 06:58

    The Cabinet IS the government of Newfoundland and Labrador and has the primary responsibility to represent the province's views to Ottawa. For Premier Dunderdale to blame Liberal MP's is silly and misguided as they are opposition MP's and the federal government of Stephen Harper will dismiss their views as easily as Premier Dunderdale dismisses opposition party views here. Finally, it is our provincial government that has the legal responsibility to engage and sign agreements with other levels of governments, not opposition parties.

  • Karen Butt
    March 23, 2012 - 06:52

    We have been bring up the issue of animal abuse in labrador to her for almost a year, wanting things to change to help these animals who are being stabbed, beaten, burned, etc, we have even sent her pictures of these animals.She won't even comment on this issue. How can NL have a premier who is so cold hearted when it comes to helping these animals.. the SPCA has a very run down shelter and can only house 6-7 dogs at one time. The cages are being held together with duck tape that's how bad it is.We have taken over 2000 dogs from NL to our rescue( littersncritters ) in NS to help them... We are hoping to travel to Labrador to help build them a new shelter to help the animals.We have been all doing fundraising in Labrador and here in NS to try and make this happen, and the premier of NL...Looks very bad on her part.. won't even talk about this problem...

  • Whisker kicker
    March 23, 2012 - 06:48

    Typical dunderdale. Throw the first punch, get beat up on the issue and accuse them of attacking her. Anyone who asks questions of the house now will be accused of a threat, a law suit or volience against women. That's just another way to avoid the real question and pushs the womens issues back to 1950's. What she will learn is that respect has to be earned. It's not what's between the legs that matters it's what's between the ears. All the tories have between their legs is their tail. They have taken the same position on muskrat as steve harper has on MSRS, and that's JUst cheap and wrong.