Don’t count Kathy out

Trevor Taylor
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They say a friend is someone you know everything about and still like.

I don’t know that to be completely true, but it helps explain some things. I guess that is why friends stand by friends when it seems much of the world has turned on them. And it doesn’t really matter why things have turned on them. We have this inclination, to borrow from George Stromboulopoulos, “to see the good in everyone.”

I met Kathy Dunderdale when she was a member and then chairperson of the Northern Cod Adjustment and Recovery Program’s (NCARP) appeal board.

The appeal board was charged with reviewing the cases of fishermen, fisherwomen and fish plant workers who had failed to provide the appropriate documentation to qualify for the compensation program. I was working for the fishermen’s union at the time, representing people in front of the appeal board.

It was a hard time for a lot of people, and going before the appeal board was stressful for many. I have to say Dunderdale and I didn’t get off to the best start.

Frankly, and this might not surprise you, I thought she was hard-nosed and demanding.

But I also found that there was a deep appreciation for the people who were coming in front of her, and with her support many people who otherwise would have fallen through the cracks were helped.

And we became friends.

Same side

So, when she and I ended up in politics together years later, we ended up many times on the same side of issues.

Maybe it was because of the NCARP days that many times in cabinet meetings someone around the table would call us out for what appeared to be communicating without saying anything.

The late Jack Byrne, when minister of Municipal Affairs, was particularly good at picking up on it.

You might say, who cares? Fair enough, I suppose.

Well, I care, and too often in public life, not just in politics, people get a harder ride than they deserve.

As Randy Simms rightly pointed out, Dunderdale was judged as a woman in a man’s world. She was judged as the person who came after Danny. She was judged as the premier of a government 10 years old.

And as much as we like to portray ourselves as compassionate and caring, we can be really, really hard on people.

As a radio commentator observ­ed to me during the power outage — a.k.a. crisis — the level of rhetoric was bad even by Newfoundland standards.

Good run

Communications missteps aside, Dunderdale had a good run. She carried some of the heaviest files ever held by a cabinet minister in this province.

She led the negotiations on some of the biggest deals ever done in this province. She held the respect of her colleagues both in government and outside. She stepped up when she thought it was right to do so and she stepped down when she thought the same. History will be good to her.

But don’t think you have heard the last of her. She has been kicking around and kicked around since the days of the Burin Action Committee in the early ’80s and she will be kicking around and kicked around again. Because the province needs people like Kathy Dunderdale, and she won’t be able to avoid playing a part. It is in her nature.

So, Kathy, go home, take a break, catch your breath and get on with life. Your story is not done yet, because you can’t keep a good man down … I mean woman.

Trevor Taylor is a former cabinet minister under the Danny Williams administration. Email:

Organizations: Burin Action Committee

Geographic location: Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Fred
    January 28, 2014 - 23:11

    Trevor Taylor is a very funny guy, whether he tries to be or not. I've heard of Cronies supporting Cronies till the end, but this guy even supports her AFTER the End ! She got the Boot Trevor old boy, just like you did. Get over it already.

  • david
    January 28, 2014 - 15:54

    "Kicking around". What a wonderful bit of completely unintentional self-awareness by Trevor Taylor. Our politicians really are like homeless bums, or high school dropouts, without any purpose other than to muddle through each day as it comes. Hey man...spare a gold-plated pension?

  • SayWhat
    January 28, 2014 - 13:38

    Dunderdale was the oldest first time sworn-in premier we ever had until Tom Marshall broke the record Friday past. Its a reflection of what we are...old and worn out. Any young dynamic leadership hasn't got a chance. The median age of our first three premiers when they were sworn-in a first time was 41. The median age of our last three premiers when they were sworn in a first time is approximately 59. Here's something to think about, when Joey Smallwood was sworn in as Premier for the first time, he was younger than the following when they were sworn in a first time, Wells, Tulk, Grimes, Williams, Dunderdale and Marshall. That makes Smallwood one of the youngest Premiers to be sworn into office.

  • Just Sayin
    January 28, 2014 - 13:31

    I think history will judge her on the wisdom of the MF scheme. I expect to see her on a corporate board soon, as Danny Willliams did on leaving, and further feather her nest, while on the the pension plan. Any ethical code to prevent that? Did she bring in one that would be part of her legacy?

  • crista
    January 28, 2014 - 12:45

    Reading your article and articles we did not have any problems with a women being elected as PREMIER.The problems that seem to be going around the word complain and complaining???? Not being sarcastic but here is something you can think about???? definition of complain. 1.Express dissatisfaction annoyance about a state of affairs or an event(s)????