Mayors in the St. John’s area were surprised by the timing of Premier Kathy Dunderdale’s resignation — but not her departure.
Mount Pearl Mayor Randy Simms said Tuesday he was expecting Dunderdale to leave eventually — not now.
“I kind of thought that after the caucus meeting she would take a little time to develop an exit strategy for herself,” he said. “This was rather quick. Now, this may have been her exit strategy. This may have been her intent all the way back from Florida: ‘This is it, I’m done.’ I don’t know. But to say surprised? That’s almost an understatement, isn’t it, when you think about it.”
St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe likewise said the timing of the announcement took him by surprise.
“I expected it would happen a little later rather than as soon as it did happen, but I guess given the events over the past two, three weeks, with the rolling blackouts, the performance of the premier in relation to those blackouts, the crossing of the floor (by former Conservative MHA Paul Lane), I guess that hurried up the process, and I assume she felt the support she wanted and thought might be there for her within her party certainly wasn’t, and obviously that led to her decision this morning, or last night, to resign.”
Waiting to go
Conception Bay South Mayor Ken McDonald said he thought Dunderdale would try to “rally the troops” a little longer.
“I know she’s leaving on her own terms to a certain extent, but (I thought she’d) bow out with a little less controversy with regards to the Paul Lane thing, let the dust settle from that and then step aside,” he said.
Paradise Mayor Dan Bobbett praised Dunderdale’s time as premier.
“She’s got Muskrat Falls started and the various things she’s been doing in the last little while,” Bobbett said. “I was kind of surprised, in a way, but the polls have been showing that the PC party was last, all culminating in one big thing. Paul Lane moving over to the Liberals was one thing yesterday, and today Kathy’s stepping down.”
Bobbett said he believes Dunderdale stepped down sooner to give the party plenty of time to get its house in order and prepare for the next provincial election.
Attentive to issues
Simms said he found the provincial government attentive to municipal issues under Dunderdale.
“They took the issues that we brought forward seriously. They worked on things with us. We had a good level of co-operation with them most of the time at the municipal level. Certainly that’s my experience.”
O’Keefe wasn’t as positive.
“I think the overall performance of the government has been poor,” he said. “They’ve done some positive things, there’s no doubt about that. But my feel on it is that there’s been a terrific lack of communication. There’s been an inability of the government to connect to us, and by us I mean the people of the province. That connection that is brought on by feeling that people have confidence in one’s performance, that kind of a connection hasn’t been there.”
McDonald said Dunderdale did a good job running the province.
“We’ve never been better off economically, so kudos to any government that can do that.”
Municipalities in the province are currently clamouring for a new fiscal framework with the province, and Simms said work will continue at the municipal level while the Conservatives sort out leadership of the party.
O’Keefe said he’s not worried about instability in the Conservatives leadership.
“This will be a transition, there’s no doubt about that,” he said, adding Tom Marshall is a strong choice for interim premier. “It’s going to be a very active year politically, but I’m not worried about, for instance, the city’s relationship with any provincial government, be it PC, Liberal or NDP. It’s the role of that government and the role of the administration of the city to work together for the benefit of the city and the benefit of the province.”