The Honourable Tom Marshall, Q.C.
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
Swearing-in Ceremony, Government House, St. John’s, NL
Friday, January 24, 2014
Check Against Delivery
Good morning, everyone. Thank you for coming.
Boris Pasternak, the great Russian novelist, once wrote: “Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.”
To be brutally frank, “surprised” is hardly strong enough a word to describe my reaction when Premier Kathy Dunderdale asked me earlier this week to take on this significant responsibility today, and when my colleagues – whom I worked with for the past 10 years in Caucus – endorsed this decision.
And I know, Governor, you said “a majority of the House”, so I take it that means “not everybody”.
But after that initial shock gave way to reflection, the words that better describe what I was feeling are “humbled” and “ready”. I’m humbled by the confidence that’s been placed in me by my colleagues, but I’m ready to give – along with my colleagues in the Caucus and the Cabinet – our very best to the people of the province, which we all dearly love.
Let me begin by honouring the individual who has served for the past three years as our province’s 10th Premier.
Kathy Dunderdale has earned my admiration as one of the finest, most dedicated, capable and compassionate people I have ever had the privilege of working beside. Not only has she left her mark on history as the first woman to have served as our Premier, but she has also set an example for all of us – examples of perseverance, of integrity, and of grace under pressure.
And as my first act as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, allow me – on behalf of our people – to thank Kathy Dunderdale for her dedication and remarkable service to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Let me also take this opportunity to thank former Premier Danny Williams for encouraging me to enter public life, and for inviting me into Cabinet for the first time back in 2003, giving me the opportunity to serve my province in a variety of portfolios, such as Justice and Attorney General, Intergovernmental Affairs, Natural Resources, Forestry and Agrifoods, and Finance, to name most of them.
I have had the privilege of delivering five Budgets, and work on the 2014 Budget is already well underway.
So, as we enter this period of transition, the important work of government will proceed unabated. We will continue to fulfill the mandate that we were given from Newfoundlanders and Labradorians in the 2011 general election to foster growth and strengthen communities, and to meet the needs of our people.
We will continue to govern responsibly, so we do nothing to compromise the phenomenal growth that has changed the face of Newfoundland and Labrador over the past decade.
So let the motto of my administration be the words in Deuteronomy that Moses used to set the highest standards for all who would serve in public office. “Justice,” he said, “justice shall you pursue.” [Deuteronomy 16:20]
So it is therefore very important to me that all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians shall share fully and fairly in the benefits of our newfound prosperity, and have a voice in the way it is distributed.
So let us ensure that the fight against poverty and inequality intensifies in our province and we never forget the needs of those who are aged, who have disabilities, who are infirmed, and who live on fixed and low incomes.
Now, as you know, my foundation is in the bedrock of Humber East: Corner Brook, Pasadena, Steady Brook, Massey Drive, Humber Village, Little Rapids, Boom Siding and Pinchgut Lake.
There is no more beautiful place on Earth than on our west coast, and I am eager to make the journey home in my new capacity at the earliest opportunity.
But, of course, when I think of home, I think of family and friends, and I think of my late parents, who would both be honoured to know that, because of their investments in my future, I am now able to make this contribution to our future.
My dad – who many of you knew – was also a war veteran. He placed his life in harm’s way on the beaches of Normandy and elsewhere, alongside so many others, to advance the cause of freedom and democracy throughout the world, and to secure the freedoms that we all enjoy today.
So, in honour of those who gave so much, we must give our best and make the most of the opportunities that they won for us at such a great cost.
So let me also thank my wife and children, who have been an incredible source of strength for me in everything that I have done. Especially over the past decade, they have supported me because they, like all of you, are proud of the place where we all live.
It is impossible not to be passionate when we consider our people, and our history, and how far we have already come.
We are not the province we were a decade ago.
Opportunities have never been brighter – but we have to ensure – we must ensure – that they are available to all of us.
By the same token, expectations have never been higher – but I am fully prepared, with my colleagues, to rise up to meet those expectations.
I only ask that you work with us, and that you open up to us.
If we are doing something right, tell us.
If we are doing something wrong and need to do better, tell us.
We will never promise what we cannot deliver, but what I will promise you is my full attention, my best judgment and my tireless service.
So, whether we live in Corner Brook or Cappahayden, Fogo or Fortune, Bishop’s Falls or Churchill Falls, or the host of other communities that make us who we are, each and every one of us has a love for our province.
How blessed we are to call this place home.
So work with us, and we pledge to work with you to the very best of our abilities – with the full engagement of our outstanding team in government – and, together, let us explore every opportunity to make Newfoundland and Labrador everything that this wonderful province is capable of becoming.