Pre­mier’s de­par­ture a ‘sad day,’ says Hed­der­son

Vet­eran MHA says Dun­derdale leaves be­hind a legacy of ac­com­plish­ment

The Compass - - OPINION - BY TERRY ROBERTS terry.roberts@tc.tc

As li­ai­son be­tween the pre­mier and her cau­cus, Har­bour Main MHA Tom Hed­der­son had ar­guably the best perch from which to gauge the level of in­ter­nal sup­port for Pre­mier Kathy Dun­derdale.

As such, Hed­der­son, the par­lia­men­tary as­sis­tan t t o t h e pre­mier, makes it clear there was no groundswell from within the cau­cus, try­ing to push Dun­derdale out of of­fice.

“Not one cau­cus mem­ber ever asked her to leave. That speaks well for a strong cau­cus,” Hed­der­son stated dur­ing a tele­phone in­ter­view this af­ter­noon, just hours af­ter Dun­derdale an­nounced she is re­sign­ing as pre­mier and leader of the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive party, ef­fec­tive Fri­day.

She has not in­di­cated whether she will step aside as MHA for Vir­ginia Waters.

Hed­der­son of­fered high praise for the de­part­ing pre­mier, de­scrib­ing her as a “true cham­pion” for the prov­ince, and an ac­com­plished leader who has “laid a great foun­da­tion for fu­ture pros­per­ity.”

“It’s a sad day for New­found­land and Labrador,” he added. “We had what I con­sid­ered to be an ex­cel­lent leader.

“I will miss her, and the only thing I can say is I ap­pre­ci­ate it was her choice, at a time of her choos­ing.”

So what went wrong? Her res­ig­na­tion comes a lit­tle over two years af­ter Dun­derdale — the prov­ince’s first fe­male pre­mier — led the PCs to a con­vinc­ing elec­tion win in the fall of 2011, and at a time when eco­nomic growth in the prov­ince is lead­ing the coun­try.

Hed­der­son of­fered the fol­low­ing: “It’s a very chal­leng­ing job to be pre­mier, and of course, she had many chal­lenges. To see her move on with the class she did to­day and with such a won­der­ful speech, I ’m proud of her and happy for her.”

Hed­der­son pointed to a long list of ac­com­plish­ments , in­clud­ing t he Muskrat Falls hy­dro­elec­tric project, a trade agree­ment wi t h E u r o p e a n d the ad­vance­ment of gen­der eq­uity.

“She has left this prov­ince in the best shape ever,” Hed­der­son noted. Dun­derdale’s an­nounce­ment is the lat­est po­lit­i­cal jaw-drop­per in a prov­ince that has seen more than its share of up­heaval and in­trigue in re­cent months.

It fol­lows the de­fec­tion of Mount Pearl South MHA Paul Lane to the Lib­er­als on Mon­day, and many months of de­clin­ing pub­lic sup­port for the pre­mier and the PC Party.

With the Op­po­si­tion Lib­er­als surg­ing in the polls, and many ob­servers sug­gest­ing the sun has set on the PC stran­gle­hold on power, Dun­derdale’s res­ig­na­tion came as lit­tle sur­prise.

But Hed­der­son, a vet­eran MHA who has held a va­ri­ety of cab­i­net posts over the years, said those writ­ing the party’s obituary need to re-eval­u­ate their think­ing.

“We’re not rest­ing on our laurels,” he said. “We’re one of the most en­vied prov­ince’s in the coun­try.”

As for his po­lit­i­cal fu­ture, Hed­der­son said he plans to seek re-elec­tion in 2015, but noted he will re-eval­u­ate his in­ten­tions as the elec­tion draws closer.

“I’m a great sup­porter of this party; of this gov­ern­ment. We still have lots of things to do,” he said.

Har­bour Main MHA Tom Hed­der­son

“I think Kathy did what she thought was right. I wish her well in all her

en­deav­ours.”

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