© — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Premier Kathy Dunderdale addresses the rank and file members of the PC Party Friday night at their annual convention in Gander.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale painted her current politicial woes as just another rough patch -- the type her party has endured many times before -- in her keynote speech at the PC Party’s annual convention in Gander Friday night.
Dunderdale received a warm welcome from the party rank and file, including five standing ovations throughout the speech, as she told members to be proud of the party’s accomplishments.
“Whenever someone tells you how bleak things are in Newfoundland and Labrador, set the record straight,” she began by saying. “On measure after measure, the evidence adds up to one undeniable conclusion: Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are much better off, and our economy is much better off now than ever before.”
The PC Party is currently polling third for the first time in well over a decade, but Dunderdale reminded party members that this sort of thing has happened before.
She pointed to the fiscal crisis the PCs faced in 2004 shortly after taking office, and a brutal public service strike.
“We took a big political hit for that. We fell in the political polls. Our leader was being mocked daily in the press. There were calls for resignations. Does any of this sound familiar?” she said. “Do we break? Do we fall? No, we know this too shall pass, and our efforts to usher in an even brighter day for Newfoundland and Labrador will succeed, because Progressive Conservatives settle for nothing less than success.”
Dunderdale briefly mentioned the NDP, but it was the Liberals -- currently riding high in the polls -- that she saved her harshest attacks for.
She painted her political opponents as reckless, cynical cowards who would drive up the debt and bankrupt the province.
She pointed to the last time the Liberals were in power, before the Tories swept into office in 2003.
“The Liberals don’t like to talk about those years. The Liberals are desperate to keep people from remembering the reality that gripped our province when they held the reins a decade ago when taxes were higher and the debt was deeper, when wait times were longer and class sizes were larger, when jobs were fewer and opportunities were smaller,” she said. “Optimism was in desperately short supply.”
Dunderdale said people should be suspicious when other political parties demand better services from government, or make expensive promises.
“Every new demand they make, every new dollar they promise to spend is a dollar they would tear from the hands of hard working Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” Dunderdale said. “They must realize that there is no such thing as the government’s money; it is the people’s money.”
Less than a minute later in her speech, Dunderdale listed off the “investments” her government is making.
“This year alone, we have been able to invest $2.9 billion in health care, $1.3 billion in education, $185 million to support children and families … $230 million for sustainable communities, $140 for poverty reduction and $100 million in incentives to grow businesses,” she said. “These are solid investments in the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.”
And as for the bad polling numbers, Dunderdale said that’s just what the party needs to keep from coasting.
“Let’s not be disheartened. We need to treat poor poll results as opportunities, because they keep us on our toes when we might be tempted to lay back and coast on our laurels.”
The PC convention runs through the weekend.