It’s been a tough year, but Dunderdale says she’s not going anywhere
Premier Kathy Dunderdale didn’t even wait for the end of the question before giving an emphatic answer.
“Yes, I am going to be here,” she said; she’s planning on running in the next election.
© — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks to reporters outside the House of Assembly Thursday, hours after she was served with a subpoena to appear in court on a class-action lawsuit regarding moose/vehicle collissions.
“I don’t consider my political future by polls. I’m always going to be the master of my own destiny.”
By the time Dunderdale sat down with The Telegram for the traditional year-end interview late on a Tuesday afternoon, she’d already faced the same basic question from NTV, CBC and VOCM earlier the same day.
It’s been a hard year for Dunderdale. Her party is low in the polls, and everyone wants to know if she’s going to call it quits.
After a decade in power, 2013 was possibly the lowest ebb for the PC party, although in December, the polls showed a slight uptick and Dunderdale declared that she’d “turned the corner.”
But sitting in her office, speaking to The Telegram, she acknowledged that it’s been hard.
“It’s been an extremely challenging year,” she said. “We’ve had two massive ad campaigns in the last year that were anti-government. Now, when you stack all of that up, you know, that gives you a pretty stiff hill to climb, but we’re climbing it.”
Dunderdale started the year facing down a massive budget deficit, which the government tried to mitigate by laying off nearly a thousand civil servants.
The first anti-government ad campaign came from the unions, who fought the government on budget cuts, and then fought the governments on contract negotiations.
Just as the government was settling the union contract situation, the Liberal leadership contest ramped up into full gear and the five candidates spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising and campaign materials, most of it anti-government.
Dunderdale said she doesn’t have any regrets about anything she did in the past year — she doesn’t spend much time thinking in those terms — and she defended her record.
On the budget situation, she acknowledged that the Tories have grown the size of the civil service dramatically over the past 10 years, but she said they were laying off different people than the ones who were hired.
“We had people who we weren’t quite sure what they were doing. You know, services had been moved our outsourced. We still had managers of those services within our system,” Dunderdale said.
“People within the public service aren’t always transferable. You know, if I need somebody to do royalty audits over in the Department of Natural Resources, I can’t necessarily pluck somebody who teaches (adult basic eduction) out of the college system and put them over there to do that.”
Dunderdale used the cuts to adult basic education (ABE) as an example, saying that months after all the controversy and criticism, she feels vindicated by the actual results.
“There was a lot of concern being expressed right throughout the province about the fact that we were taking ABE out of the College of the North Atlantic,” she said. “Every community that had an ABE program still has an ABE program. It’s available and accessible to the people of the province who want to use it, at significantly less cost to us.”
Looking ahead, Dunderdale said there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to governing in the next two years, including the implementation of the CETA free trade agreement with Europe and the $400-million fund for fisheries innovation that comes with it.
The government is also looking ahead to Muskrat Falls, mining developments, pension reform and offshore oil developments, she said.
And looking to the future, she emphatically, repeatedly, unequivocally said she’s not going anywhere.