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Telegram year-end interview with the Premier

Cutting through the noise:
Premier Kathy Dunderdale brushes off ‘politically driven’ criticism

Telegram news article by James McLeod
December 30, 2011
Originally posted at http://www.thetelegram.com/News/Local/2011-12-30/article-2850733/Cutting-through-the-noise/1

For Premier Kathy Dunderdale, it’s been a good year — once you get past the political noise.

On a range of issues, Dunderdale said she wished people could set aside political posturing and gamesmanship.

In a lengthy year-end interview with The Telegram, Dunderdale talked about a range of issues facing her government — including Muskrat Falls, the fishery, the province’s relationship with the federal government and her choice to leave the House of Assembly closed this fall.

On the fishery, Dunderdale dismissed a lot of the rhetoric as “foolishness” and said, “I would like to cut through all of these agendas and positions and so on.”

On the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric development, she said the constant drumbeat of criticism from the Liberal Opposition was mostly picking away at tiny “snapshots” of the project, instead of considering the larger picture.

“To be completely honest with you, I don’t think they know if it’s a good deal or a bad deal because I don’t think they’ve spent enough time doing their own analysis of the information that’s been put forward,” she said. “God knows we try. We offer up briefing after briefing after briefing with Nalcor.”

The criticism for leaving the House closed, she said, was driven mostly by the NDP and a handful of pundits online.

“I’ve got a Twitter account; I know who’s making the noise. It’s the same people who are making the noise about everything else, and it’s politically driven,” she said.

“I think it’s really important to discriminate between what’s political noise driven within the machine of a party.”

Dunderdale has said repeatedly that there’s a simple reason for leaving the House closed: the government had no legislation to pass.

Following closely on the heels of an election, she said bureaucrats and politicians need time to draw up a legislative agenda which will be ready for the spring sitting of the House in early March.

Dunderdale argued that leaving the legislature closed doesn’t really matter to ordinary people.

“We’ve got more political representatives on the ground than any other political party; we have more volunteers than any other political party in this province, and we have more supporters of a dozen different ilks,” she said. “We’re not out of touch with what people are saying, and this is not an issue.”

More broadly, Dunderdale reflected on 2011 as the year she took the job as premier, and the year she won a mandate from the people in the Oct. 11 election.

What surprised her most in 2011?

“That I became premier,” Dunderdale said. “It was only this time of year that I was making my decision — over Christmas (2010).

“Once I got into 2011, the first major decision and announcement that I made was that I was gong to be seeking the leadership.”

Since then, she said the public had nearly a year to watch her as premier, and assess her capabilities. When she won a substantial majority government in the October election, Dunderdale said that gave her an added confidence.

“There’s a settling” she said. “There’s a deeper confidence as you move forward because you have gone through the most important step in terms of your leadership by going to the people and getting that affirmation about your style of leadership, about the substance of your vision and what you lay out in your platform.”

The thing about politics, Dunderdale said, is that when you fail, you fail publicly.

“There’s a lot of risk involved in it,” she said, but added that in the past year, she can’t think of any time when she’s faced that sort of public failure.

“I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what we’ve done, because I’m sure of myself in terms of where we’ve come so far, that we’re doing OK.”

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