Premier’s in it for the long haul

James McLeod
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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.

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.

Twitter: TelegramJames

Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, CBC, Department of Natural Resources

Geographic location: Europe

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Recent comments

  • DON II
    December 31, 2013 - 18:36

    The Telegram story says that Premier Dunderdale does not have any regrets and does not spend any time thinking in those terms. That says it all. It appears that the Premier does not really care about the consequences of her decisions. It appears that she also makes no mistakes! Her Government is unethical, secretive, incompetent and corrupt. The thoughtless and ruthless decisions made by her Government, with or without her knowledge and consent, have cost people their jobs, their financial security has been threatened and the lives of thousands of people in the province have been disrupted or ruined. It appears that the fact that people spend many years of their lives becoming educated, seeking employment, buying a house and land and working at making a life in Newfoundland and Labrador means absolutely nothing to those in the Government of Newfoundland who use the power of the State to destroy or punish these people and nullify their years of hard work with the stroke of a pen! It appears that you cannot be a success inside the Government of Newfoundland unless you are ruthless enough to discharge your own mother from her job or are willing to expropriate her house and pay her a pittance for it. It appears that making ruthless decisions that are forcing thousands of people to leave the Province in search of employment is no reason for regret or for reconsideration! It appears that the power and authority of her Government has been manipulated and misdirected many times and in many ways to unjustly enrich certain people and corporations. The power of the State has been widely abused. The unethical, ruthless, incompetent and corrupt behavior of the bureaucracy has been covered up by a Government that aided and abetted that cover up with the passage of Bill 29! In case you were wondering why you are so unpopular and getting more unpopular by the day Madam Premier, the people talk amongst themselves and will remember who is ultimately responsible for the hardships and abuse visited upon them at the hands of a ruthless and corrupt Government!

  • Terry Walsh
    December 31, 2013 - 11:32

    I for one would say that Danny Williams is sorry he ever appointed Kathy Dunderdale as interim leader. Kathy has decimated the PC party of NL and I am surprised that she has decided to stay on as leader, she should resign now and save the party the embarrassment of the PC Party getting slaughtered in the next election. Ms Dunderdale you should be ashamed of yourself taking out your entire staff and wine and dine them at one of St. John's most expensive restaurants and have the taxpayers pay for it especially when there are people who can't afford to put food on the table or heat their homes, I must say you set a great example.

  • Guy Incognito
    December 31, 2013 - 10:51

    poor delusional Cathy. You are NOT the master of your own political destiny. The people of NL and Labrador are the ones that will decide your future in 2015. That is if your own party doesn't turf you first.

  • Darrell
    December 30, 2013 - 15:39

    Her being in it for the long haul and actually being in it for the long haul are two different stories. One by one, her caucus will be knocked off. First one will be Glen Little, then Tom Marhall's seat, then Joan Shea and then Glen Little John.

  • Maggy Carter
    December 30, 2013 - 13:24

    Until the last provincial election, I had always voted Conservative. But I could not vote for Dunderdale in good conscience. In some respects I think she is an honest politician - that is to say, I don't she has ever had her hand in the cookie jar. But there are other forms of political dishonesty. Bill 29 was and is an extraordinarily dishonest piece of legislation. It set the stage for a thoroughly dishonest process for ramming Muskrat Falls down the throats of the public. Almost everything about Ms. Dunderdale's premiership to date - and indeed how she became premier - can lead to only one conclusion. She is the titular head of a puppet government - a government not committed to the welfare of the ordinary Newfoundlander and Labradorian but to the profitability of big business operating in this province. She might even naively believe that pursuing the latter is the best way of achieving the former. If so, she could not be more wrong. We are witnessing the deterioration of this province, and it's capital in particular, into an alcohol-ridden, drug-infested, dog-eat-dog, wild-west frontier in which money - and only money - matters. As the incomes of some soar, the ability of others - many others - to cope with rapidly rising costs of living becomes more and more challenging. Even those with more money are discovering that bigger houses, better trucks and more stuff at Costco hasn't necessarily improved their quality of life. Nor is this an advertisement for the NDP. History shows all they would do is push us further into debt in an effort to deal with the symptoms rather than the underlying cause of our most serious problems. Dwight Ball is no Messiah - not even a Moses. But he does come across as a very level headed, practical guy who doesn't believe the province ends at the overpass. He is our very best hope at the moment for slowing down a train that is out of control and headed for a wreck. I won't expect miracles, but I will be satisfied even if he can demonstrate that he isn't in the pocket of big business. And on that I think he has already made a good start.

  • Jay
    December 30, 2013 - 11:42

    Premier Dunderdale is not being completely honest by pretending that the government saved money through these massive layoffs. A large number of conscientious, legitimate public employees were let go and replaced by people who supported her own personal agendas. The number of Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers has almost doubled since the PCs were elected. This has more to do with helping friends than providing better service.

  • Jay
    December 30, 2013 - 11:41

    Premier Dunderdale is not being completely honest by pretending that the government saved money through these massive layoffs. A large number of conscientious, legitimate public employees were let go and replaced by people who supported her own personal agendas. The number of Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers has almost doubled since the PCs were elected. This has more to do with helping friends than providing better service.

  • darrell
    December 30, 2013 - 11:15

    The next Abacus poll will define her fate. If she doesn't improve the party's position by the next poll, the PC party will have no other choice but to have a PC leadership race/convention. Frankly, no matter how she feels or what she thinks......she just doesn't cut it.

  • poisoned
    December 30, 2013 - 11:01

    Poor Kathy, still can't see beyond the tip of her nose... If she thinks 2013 was a rough year, wait until 2015 when the PC party will hopefully be blown off the political map, with a lesson to ALL parties to never pull the same stunts the PCs have been pulling the last couple years

  • Mary
    December 30, 2013 - 10:35

    Oh I look so forward to kicking her in the behind during the next election. Mismanaged economy resulting in multi million deficits caused by her government, even professor Wade Locke stated the Pc government was headed towards this economic deficit if they did not reign in spending and put aside funds in the good times. But no the Pcs got cocky and hear we are in debt resulting in thousands laid off in our public service, important services cut. Of course Kathy Dunderdale blamed the low price of oil and resulting low royalties as the problem. Not to mention Muskrat Falls rammed down our throats with no worthwhile debate. Newfoundlanders will bear a terrible price in higher electrical rates mark my words this topic will come up again long after she is gone. Folks, its time to change this government. The arrogance of Kathy Dunderdale to state she has turned the political corner, of course what else can you expect from a government who have been in power way to long. No rewards for you Ms Dunderdale.

  • Amron
    December 30, 2013 - 10:29

    Kathy_ The only place you,ll be running to_is the HR office in st johns to file for your EI. because your going to get LAYED-OFF like you did to us.

  • James
    December 30, 2013 - 09:44

    Blame not but yourself - dear electorate. You put them in. now live with it. I will let the remainder of time between now and next election unfold and judge for myself on the merits of her completed term mandate. As well I will keep in mind the alternates. An NDP government who has imploded or a Liberal government who put us on bankrupt status prior to the PC's coming to power. Grim alternatives

    • Corporate Psycho
      December 30, 2013 - 10:57

      This Premier will step down in 2014.

    • Mike
      December 30, 2013 - 11:48

      I agree that the premier will announce her intention to step down in 2014, I suspect in late fall to allow a late winter leadership and then the new tory leader can bring out a positive 2015 budget. She will be stepping down for "personal reasons" "to spend more time with her family". The Liberals set the table that allowed for our prosperity. Danny was merely on power when it came to fruition. Dunderdale has done everything possible to blow it, therefore, even if she goes, the Liberals are still your best alternative.

  • Corporate Psycho
    December 30, 2013 - 08:49

    Is she talking about the 400 million Sullivan Fund?

  • Neil Kelly
    December 30, 2013 - 08:36

    It's all part of their master plan to get ousted for a couple of terms and then return to reep the rewards of Muskrat Falls! We are all idiots for not seeing this long ago when so many Stupid decisions started being made.

  • Shar
    December 30, 2013 - 07:56

    Kathy Dear, your voters are much more intelligent than you are. Lest they Forget.