Support for premier rock solid at convention

James
James McLeod
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PC Party members rally around their embattled leader in Gander

At the end of Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s sprawling 45-minute speech to PC Party delegates Saturday morning in Gander, Agnes Richard had heard enough.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale addresses Progressive Conservative Party delegates Saturday morning at the Hotel Gander. Dunderdale talked at length about Muskrat Falls and Bill 29, two issues where she said people are getting misinformation from opposition politicians and the media.
— Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram

Under party rules, Dunderdale knew she was safe from a leadership review 30 days before the convention; anybody wanting to challenge her job at the helm needed to give advance notice in writing to the party office.

But Richard charged up to a microphone, and said she didn’t care what the rules had to say. She wanted to speak up anyway.

“I move that we endorse the leadership of Kathy Dunderdale.” Richard said, before she was drowned out in cheers, applause and shouts of “hear, hear” from the other delegates.

The PCs may be third place in the polls, and nearly four out of five Newfoundlanders and Labradorians may think that Dunderdale is not the best choice for premier of the province, but at the PC Party annual convention, there was no hint of wavering support.

The most common sentiment expressed again and again was, “If only they knew her like we know her, then everything would be different.”

Dunderdale gave a keynote speech at the Friday night convention banquet, speaking from prepared notes and alternating between talking about the roaring economy in the province, and blasting the opposition parties — the Liberals especially — for their past failures in government and their more recent unrealistic demands of the government as Official Opposition.

“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.

But during her “Leader’s Report” speech on Saturday morning, Dunderdale spent most of her time talking “about the facts, not the myths” some of the government’s perceived failures: Muskrat Falls, and the Bill 29 amendments to access to information.

On both files, Dunderdale said, the opposition parties and the media have been painting an unfair, skewed view of things.

“If you don’t come to forums like this, you would never know all the great things that are happening in the province,” Dunderdale said. “If we had to rely on our traditional sources of information, if you had to listen to the radio or to other media all day long, you’d think the arse is gone completely out of it, and that is not so. It is not so, and it is very difficult to get our own message out.”

On Muskrat Falls, Dunderdale said, “there is more information available on this project to the people of the province than ever before in our history on any project.”

On Bill 29, Dunderdale once again offered her defence of the controversial law, saying that personal privacy, cabinet secrecy and commercially sensitive information must be kept confidential.

Despite this, she said the government is sending out more information than ever before.

“There is way more information going out now than prior to Bill 29,” Dunderdale said. “Significantly more requests coming in than before; significantly more information going out.”

Critics have pointed out that the amendments to the access to information law made broad swaths of government documents off-limits to public disclosure, and made it possible withhold documents that had previously been accessible.

Every Liberal leadership candidate has promised to repeal Bill 29, and Dunderdale said that’s because they simply don’t know what they’re talking about.

“Now, I’m going to tell you, that’s pretty scary,” Dunderdale said. “B’ys, we could be in a lot of trouble if they ever get their way.”

Earlier this month, the party started distributing the first volume of “The Blue Pages,” a newsletter which gives the PC Party perspective on current issues. It will be distributed regularly to members across the province.

Party president Cillian Sheehan said the backbone of the party is solid, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank and active district associations right across the province.

Sheehan said the party plans on using that structure a lot more.

“We have to kind of utilize our district associations a little bit more in terms of getting our message out to them so they can disseminate it around the communities — you know, in coffee shops, around council chambers, volunteer groups,” he said. “That’s a way of getting our message out that we probably haven’t been using as much as we should have in the past.”

 

jmcleod@thetelegram.com

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: PC Party

Geographic location: Gander

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Recent comments

  • Bill Smith
    Bill Smith
    September 23, 2013 - 12:46

    I am a former PC party supporter but I can't support the party any more with Dunderdale at the helm. She is a bad leader whose has made many bad decisions that have not helped ordinary people but hurt them terribly. I will not vote PC again for a very long time. I look forward the day this PC government is nothing more than a bad memory.

  • Sam
    September 23, 2013 - 11:57

    Well as far as i am concerned she's as good as anybody else i see around. Just wish people would give her a chance.

  • Wild Rose
    September 23, 2013 - 10:06

    PC all the way! Dunderdale know what this province needs and it isnt the ungratefull people who all take.

  • Ben
    September 23, 2013 - 09:22

    Kev...Out of touch with people in the province...you have got to be kidding!! One cannot go to the washroom now without it being on twitter or facebook. People are more intuned with things now than they have ever been. Things are pretty good here in the province...be careful what you wish for.

  • Scuffs
    September 23, 2013 - 09:10

    She got to remember that it was the polls that gave her job. Now her or her sorry excuse for a government have already said that they WON'T apologize for making the big tough decisions to slash, cut and burn. But it also means they she hasn't take responsibility for making poor decisions that put us into the position for drastic cuts and layoff's. The premier is putting all her confidence into Ross Reid getting them all re-elected, but unlike Ross, I don't think that the people are all as gullible as we were four years ago.

  • Kev
    September 23, 2013 - 08:49

    Never in NL history has there been a gov't so out of touch with public opinion. They deserve to lose every seat.

  • RATTER 01
    September 23, 2013 - 08:40

    DUH! What would you expect. It was a PC convention. Tow the party line folks, tow the party line.

    • Billy Gosse
      September 23, 2013 - 12:35

      Like RATTER01 said, it is a PC convention. Dissent and debate is not encourage or expected at these functions. I was a PC party member for many years... very involved in campaigns since 1993, but didn't participate in the last election campaign, because I didn't have any faith in Dunderdale's leadership abilities, or with the rationale behind the Muskrat Falls project. Reality is, there are many PCs who completely disagree with the curent leadership and strategy... and they went nowhere near Gander this weekend. I see a lot of empty seats in the pics... I remember when that session was standing room only... and that wasn't all that long ago.

  • Sam
    September 23, 2013 - 08:26

    For all you naysayers...do you see a better alternative? I travel around the province and things have never been better.

    • Ken Collis
      September 23, 2013 - 09:19

      Around the Avalon things aren't as bad as it could be but in most towns the govt. could be doing a better job for sure. There is way too much neglect for my liking. I know that lots of money goes to the government but what I see is a lot of it being sent in the wrong direction. You shouldn't neglect other aspects of our economy just because there is oil money. Imagine if tourism, the fishery, forestry, small business, etc... were working at their full potential. Neglect of these industries will leave us worse off in the long run.

  • Right Wild
    September 23, 2013 - 08:01

    This townie will be voting PC again. The alternatives are terrible.

    • Robb
      September 23, 2013 - 12:29

      Right on Right Wild.......I have always voted PC, but like a lot of people, I have been re-thinking things......but when I look at the state of NL and Lab, and then look at the alternatives, it is PC all the way again for this townie too.....can you imagine if by some disaster that Loraine Michael got elected..? Those union hugging creeps would give it all to the unions, put all small business out of business with a neck-breaking minimum wages....and the liberals are just hoping to ride a tide...but really, people's memories are just so short...does anyone not remember the liberal years..??...Clyde lied...Tobin and the nurses..??....anyway, it is just amazing....but one thing you cannot deny or cover up, the province has never been in better shape, and I know you creeps will say it was just the oil, and yes it is the oil, but also the management of that....liberals would have sold the shop, the ndp would have their heads in the sand, but the PCs gave the province an ownership stake in the oil, and what a great investment....so people, look around before you decide on who is best for government.

    • Eli
      September 23, 2013 - 14:19

      What kind of smoke are you guys on anyway? Geeeez.

  • Filly
    September 23, 2013 - 07:55

    Looks like there were lots of empty seats too

  • Filly
    September 23, 2013 - 07:49

    This entire crew is out to lunch. Entirely out of touch with reality. I am embarassed for Dunderdale after reading this article. Who retires next? Kennedy?

  • Eli
    September 23, 2013 - 07:44

    All the information she's getting out is nothing more than PC propaganda, anything requested thru our so called Freedom of Information Act is either turned down or released with half of it redacted. Poor buggers are whistlin' in the dark.

  • Ken Collis
    September 23, 2013 - 07:24

    Sheehan says "We have to kind of utilize our district associations a little bit more in terms of getting our message out to them so they can disseminate it around the communities" May I suggest that if the party would use the district associations to get the peoples message to the party then the polls might reflect differently. As it stands right now the PC party appears to be out of touch with the voters not because we don't understand what they are doing, but because they don't understand what we know needs to be done.

  • Steve P.
    September 23, 2013 - 06:46

    Great! Glad they all agree with each other. Now lets take everyone of them and stick them on lets say Kellys Island. They can live out there days there agreeing with eachother.

  • Brian
    September 23, 2013 - 06:21

    Lemmings,Lemmings,Lemmings . Good for the party . Keep it up, " It won't be long now".