Dunderdale delivers fiery speech to PC Party faithful

James McLeod
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PC Convention happening in Gander this weekend

Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks Friday night at the PC Party annual general meeting in Gander.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale struck a defiant tone Friday night in her keynote speech to her political supporters at the PC Party annual general meeting in Gander.

Dunderdale pilloried her political opposition, and painted the PC Party as the major force behind the province’s economic prosperity.

“We should never cease to remind ourselves that our strength as a province is not an accident. It did not just happen,” she told party members. “It is not some other party’s legacy.We made this happen.”

She took time to talk about the benefits of a recent settlement with Exxon Mobil, which will see the government receive a $150 million payment in exchange for Hebron fabrication work going outside the province.

Dunderdale also spent a significant chunk of her time reiterating the benefits of the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development.

“First and foremost, it will address our immediate need for power on the island and the looming energy deficit,” Dunderdale said. “Our people, our homes, our businesses continue to need more power, and that’s a good thing. We’re growing. We have to plan now to meet that challenge and Muskrat Falls is the best way to do that.”

On Muskrat Falls especially, she painted the Liberal opposition as “opposing for the sake of opposing” and not providing any meaningful contribution to public debate.

“When we say we need the power to grow, they say we need to start managing decline,” she said. “While we are talking of ramping up to seize the opportunities that are at our door, they are talking of ratcheting back. Where we have confidence, they have fear. While we are building, they are warning that the sky is falling, and instead of planning for a brighter future, they are willing to sit in the dark.”

The speech was well-received by party loyalists, who interrupted Dunderdale with 32 applause breaks and gave her three standing ovations.

She argued that the province’s energy projects -- oil and gas, hydroelectricity, wind and other sources -- are about to make Newfoundland and Labrador a major player.

“What we are demonstrating is that Newfoundland and Labrador is ready to play in the big leagues, ready to partner with the best in the world, shoulder to shoulder as equals, ready to shape our own destiny and chart our own course,” she said.

On that point, Dunderdale talked at length about the history of the province, and argued that the perseverance of previous generations is the legacy of modern Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Our parents hung on, and our grandparents hung on, and our great grandparents hung on,” she said. “They could only dream of what we have, and we’re here because of all of them, their hard work, their vision, their commitment. We have it easier than they ever dreamed of because they worked so hard.”

But while Dunderdale’s speech was combative, her political comrades tried to paint a different picture of her.

Giving her an intro, Finance Minister Tom Marshall said that most people in the province don’t really know the real Kathy Dunderdale.

“Many thousands of people see her regularly on the evening news. They see her addressing the issues of the day; they see her participating in an endless string of public events and working to advance the best interests of the people of this wonderful province,” Marshall said. “But how well do people really get to know another human being based on the brief images and the sound bites that make up the evening news. I believe you never really get to know someone until you work with them or interact with them on a personal basis.”

He talked about her history as a social worker on the Burin Peninsula, and her roots as the daughter of a poor fisherman.

Marshall said he’s also seen her character working with her in cabinet for the past nine years.

“I was in the rare position to see the stuff that she was really made of, and I can then make a solid judgement about her character and her ability,” he said. “And invariably those who have had an opportunity to work with her closely have all come to the same conclusion, that Kathy Dunderdale is absolutely remarkable.”

In remarks immediately following Dunderdale’s speech, Health Minister Susan Sullivan made similar comments about Dunderdale’s true character not coming across in quick video clips on the news.

The PC Party convention runs until Sunday in Gander.

This year, they are celebrating their 60th annual general meeting.

Organizations: PC Party, Exxon Mobil

Geographic location: Gander, Muskrat Falls, Newfoundland and Labrador Hebron

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Recent comments

  • Winston Adams
    October 15, 2012 - 09:52

    Maurice, with house energy use going down 17 percent in 20 years, this is a reduction of a bit less than 1percent a year. With new houses added at about 3000 per year, that is almost 2 percent a year which would give a net increase in demand besides oil conversions. But a net decrease is possible with energy efficiency- see 'Bringing efficiency to the energy equation" psted on line letters Oct 9

  • Maurice E. Adams
    October 14, 2012 - 12:28

    "Our people, our homes, our businesses continue to need more power,"....... Premier, your own Energy Efficiency Plan says that since 1990 homes have become more efficient and residential energy use has gone down by 17%. The only increase in power use by residents is by displacing oil heat (which at the current rate will no longer exist by the time Muskrat is built), while Muskrat needs, not 10 years, but 50 years of increases to be viable. You will lock your own people into a 50-year high cost power contract even though near zero cost Upper Churchill power will be available less than half way through the 50 year contract period.

  • John
    October 14, 2012 - 04:27

    First of all people should not be stupid to think the conservatives are responsible for economic prosperity in NL. They rode the wave of increasing oil revenues and spent their way to a point where when the oil revenues decrease we will no longer be able to afford many of the services we have now. Our provincial debt is lower, but could have been eliminated had spending been kept in check. Our fisheryhas been totally abandoned to a union that does nothing for its members except negotiate with government on how to retrain its members to do anything else with government money while producers get more and more exemptions to ship raw product out of the province. Muskrat falls is a joke as no one even knows where the power will be used, one week it is the mining industry labradorite ,next it is the island, but next it is New England. I there is so much unclear about this mega project. Because the government is not providing a a consistent answer that the only thing people know is going to happen is an increase in our electricity bills which seem to be rubber stamped by the PUB anyway. I don't think I would be proud of that legacy just yet Mrs Dunderdale, and misinformation seems to be a lot of what is happening in NL, these days.

  • saeltop
    October 13, 2012 - 19:02

    Williams is the one that started this mess and walked away, So much for Get 'er done

  • William Daniels
    October 13, 2012 - 13:55

    150 million instead of a module? What a disaster.

    • Fred Penner
      October 13, 2012 - 17:08

      You are correct...it is a disaster. This is a reflection of the industrial development of Newfoundland. We can't build the module, we can't build cars, we can't build a space shuttle, we can't build televisions, we can't build baseball hats (or probably baseballs either), etc. There is very little here in the way of manufacturing or industry of any kind....but we are growing and perhaps one day in the future, we may build something for someone else that they can't build themselves.

  • Duffy
    October 13, 2012 - 11:23

    I would think that she is a very nice lady but lacks any remote ability as a leader. From the beginning we thought she was "Harpers Girl" and as the S&R Rescues and closures took place while she was mute just affirmed that. Hope she enjoys retirement after the next election and wish her the best but out of Politics and making bad decisions for us. Hopefully we will get another Danny or someone as strong.

  • Concerned
    October 13, 2012 - 09:35

    This Government is living in the past, as for Joey, give him the credit he deserves. He knew that Newfoundlanders, at that time, could not afford this Upper Churchill. This man did what was right, for all Newfoundlanders and in 2041 we the people of Newfoundland will reap the benefits. This government is about to put a huge burden on each and everyone of us and generation to come, This Government hasn't got the guts to put the numbers for this project out there for each and everyone of us, not just the oppositions here is being led in the dark. Where are those flyers to that each and every Newfoundlander were promised back in the Spring, I'm still waiting for that one. Maybe they don't have enough money to pay for them seeing there giving it all away.

  • roy
    October 13, 2012 - 08:51

    While i don't like the idea of the cost of electricity increasing, its been increasing anyhow. My property assessment just increased some 68 percent not counting other cost like heating fuel gas and food, where do i go to look for an increase of over 600 dollars for property tax ? Being on a fixed income like a lot of seniors we are feeling the pressure, we can't go on strike and get increases in wages to offset these increase. I think that Muskrat falls is a good project but the govt must do something beneficial for all seniors other than give discounts on moose lic.,salmon lic and auto registration. I believe the opposition are objecting because they don' t want to see the PC's suceed in industrialization where they fail in the Smallwoods time when everything he tried failed.We have to move ahead and be ready to offer what industry needs when its needed.

  • Casey
    October 13, 2012 - 08:28

    This premier has real leadership abilities. She is facing very difficult decisions about the future of NL and she is facing them head on despite all the naysayers. To parsphrase Danny Williams... Get 'er done!

    • Kev
      October 13, 2012 - 09:36

      Larry Williams, Danny the. Cable Guy, whatever.