Chris Aylward

Dunderdale steps down


Katherine Dunderdale, Premier of my native province of Newfoundland and Labrador, announced her resignation today. To be honest, I’m glad to see her go.

Two and a half years ago, she swept into power with a majority government. Unlike her predecessor, the feisty Progressive Conservative Premier Danny Williams, who was unafraid of taking on the Harper government in the interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, Dunderdale generally got on well with the Harper Conservatives. She might have taken on the now-departed Nigel Wright, who tried a last-minute squeeze play on a loan deal for Muskrat Falls that she had made nice with Harper to get, but the Prime Minister himself duly showed up on her home turf to ink the agreement.

The Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project got environmental approval by the Harper government against the continuing objections of Inuit people living in the path of it. But what’s a little mercury poisoning? (Of course, the First Nations of Grassy Narrows could tell you all about that.)

Then there was Dunderdale’s support for vastly increased government secrecy, a replica of the Harper government’s similar obsession. Under her leadership, the government passed the infamous Bill 29, dropping Newfoundland and Labrador below the rank of several Third World countries with respect to access to information.

The icing on this stale cake was the Premier’s response to the recent rolling blackouts in the province, widely seen as startlingly inept.

The political fallout from all this has been dire for her party. The Progressive Conservatives recently lost an elected representative to the Liberals in the House of Assembly, and are now trailing the Liberals by a whopping 23% in the polls.

The Conservatives’ fortunes in the provinces have been waning right across Canada, in perfect harmony with those of the federal Conservatives, presently plummeting in the polls. How much of Dunderdale’s fall was of her own making, then, and how much was due to widespread disillusion with the Harper Conservatives and everything they stand for, is anyone’s guess. But it is clear that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, like the people of Canada as a whole, are looking for change. None of this bodes well for Harper’s Conservatives in 2015: I’m trying not to weep a tear.

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This page contains a single entry by Chris Aylward published on January 23, 2014 8:40 AM.

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