It wasn’t a gender issue, it was a governance issue

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Despite the popular consensus put forth by Randy Simms and Trevor Taylor that ex-premier Kathy Dunderdale was harshly judged by the public as a woman in a man’s world, I strongly disagree.

The people of Newfoundland and Labrador were once very proud of Kathy Dunderdale.

We all wanted her to succeed and do the best she possibly could for the entirety of the province.

Instead, she failed miserably to connect with the public, and because she was the leader of the party in power, she was seemingly solely responsible for enacting many unpopular policies.

Ultimately, the end result of many debacles including limiting the access to information, pushing Muskrat Falls through without an independent review by the Public Utilities Board, laying off and eliminating hundreds of public service jobs, all while saying the province was experiencing an economic boom the likes of which has never been felt before, culminating with province-wide power outages and rolling blackouts — which, when combined with her absence, “crisis what crisis” attitude and denials, all contributed to her negative public image.

Bluntly stated, people of this province were very unhappy with her overall performance as premier.

All of these issues were further compounded by a continual lack of understanding and empathy displayed by herself and her government on all levels.

Dunderdale was not mocked by the public because of her gender, she was mocked because of her government’s policies.

All politicians are judged by the public and the media, especially when they perform poorly.

If Kathy Dunderdale had done well for the people of this province, she would of been celebrated.

Her portrayal in the media would have been above and beyond positive, no matter what clothing she wore or how her hair was styled.

It wasn’t gender that led to her negative portrayal, it was her

government’s actions and poorly received policies.

Al Latham

St. John’s

Organizations: Public Utilities Board

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Maggy Carter
    February 02, 2014 - 13:25

    Dunderdale arrived at an extraordinary time in this province's history - one any of her predecessors would have envied. Lowest unemployment, highest wages, greatest fiscal strength with highest government revenues, and officially a 'have' province. Williams hand picked a woman to succeed him and, on the strength of that alone, she received a ringing endorsement from the electorate a year later. Latham clearly documents the reasons for the wheels coming off her wagon in the ensuing two years - reasons that had nothing to do with her gender. A second reason for her failure cited by those close to Dunderdale was the ubiquitous presence of social media. Incredulous! That people talking to each other - sharing their opinions digitally- should somehow conspire to bring down a premier who didn't deserve to be brought down is a pathetic, preposterous excuse for her own lack of judgement and character. Remember, this is the woman whose eight floor social media swat team - with conscripts from every nook and cranny of cabinet, caucus, the civil service and the P.C. party - were burning up their Blackberries 24/7 in an attempt to intimidate and neutralize anyone who dared criticize her policies. In short, Dunderdale was never put-upon by the public; the public was put-upon by Dunderdale. Her tenure might have been cut short but her Machiavellian minions are still there, the shallowest of whom - the Honourable Steve Kent - still publicly struts his stuff like the cat that swallowed the canary. Gender discrimination? I think the psychologists call it a 'rationalization'.

  • Happily Retired
    February 02, 2014 - 12:23

    It most certainly was a gender issue, though she did bring some of it on herself by trying to right all of the wrongs done to women overnight. Secondarily, it was grossly negative, partisan politics led by the Telegram. All you have to do is look at the relentless attack on her by the Telegram, which has been the main campaign tool of the Liberal party. One example, of many, is the abusive, mean-spirited cartoons which were published on a regular basis. These cartoons focussed far more on her physical appearance than on policy issues. This would not have happened to a man, and if it had it would have been met by a storm of criticism from the citizens of this province. While she was far from perfect, I cannot think of any other leader who was treated so poorly on a personal level than she was.

  • GINN
    February 02, 2014 - 10:08

    This province, with high paying jobs at Long Hr., Muskrat Falls , Bull Arm & Marystown, is booming. In recent years the medical infrastructure has greatly expanded in many areas such as dialysis, CT scan facilities etc We're doing well in most areas. The civil service layoffs reflected the obvious glut there. I'm amazed at the armchair experts who ignore Kathy Dunderdale's hard work and successes such as securing the Muskrat financial guarantee and hundreds of millions to aid our fishery. The townies need to get out and around and smell the roses.

  • Frank
    February 01, 2014 - 17:21

    Kathy Dunderdale was publicly lynched in the media and it was orchestrated by VOCM. Every day they had leading stories and questions of the day all designed to have the idiots that comment on that site spew their venom and hate. I didn't vote for her but the treatment she got by the media was nothing short of disgraceful. She did a good job in my estimation but I guess no one could measure up to the beloved Danny. Vocm seems to be lost these days without Kathy to kick around.