Honourable Kathy Dunderdale
Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
A little more than three years ago, on the 3rd of December 2010, I was entrusted with the responsibility of leading the government of our province.
Standing beside my grandchildren that morning, I was reminded of my grandmothers, who grew up in a time when a woman could not even vote in Newfoundland and Labrador, let alone run for office or lead a government.
Ten months later, in October of 2011, I became the first woman to win a mandate to govern as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.
I am deeply grateful to the people of our province for their tremendous vote of confidence in 2011, and for making history. What a wonderful opportunity you have given me to serve our province.
For 10 years in government, and the past three as Premier, I have had the privilege of working with a team second to none to transform our province, placing Newfoundland and Labrador on a secure footing with a proud, prosperous, sustainable future. The progress we have made is undeniable.
Ratcheting down the debt while raising up infrastructure; investing in health care, long-term care, home care, dialysis, shorter wait times for critical procedures, poverty reduction, violence prevention, day care, smaller class sizes, growth in mining, in tourism, aquaculture, innovation, R&D; affordable college and university for our students, more apprenticeships for our graduates, greater access to skilled trades for women and Aboriginal people, and 70,000 new jobs beginning to open up – all these things, and more, we have accomplished by working together.
I am especially proud of our most recent accomplishments as a government.
The agreement to slash European tariffs on our seafood, and secure one of the greatest infusions of cash any government has ever made in fisheries renewal.
Our new land tenure system and our investments through Nalcor in offshore exploration, which have uncovered significant new reserves of oil that promise to extend the life and prosperity of our offshore petroleum industry.
And our work with Nalcor’s amazing team, guiding Muskrat Falls from the MOU stage through to project sanction, achieving a federal loan guarantee and launching the development of the greatest untapped hydropower resource on the continent.
Least-cost power for our people and employers, and a brand new route for energy exports – these will position us for strong and sustainable growth for long generations to come.
Most importantly: on every scale, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are better off today than when we started.
We have more jobs, higher incomes, lower taxes, lower public debt, greater capital investment, stronger business confidence, better opportunities and a higher standard of living today than when we came to office. Indeed, we capped off 2013 leading the entire country in economic growth – and I have been truly honoured and privileged to lead this province that is leading the country.
Ancient Hebrew Scriptures teach us that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I have discovered that this also applies to public service. Just as you know when it is time to step up, you also know when it is time to step back. The time for me is now.
After thoughtful discussion with my family, I’ve decided that on Friday of this week, I will be stepping down as Premier and leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.
Our Party will work out the details of the process to elect a new leader. I have proposed that Tom Marshall take the reins in the interim as our province’s 11th Premier. Our caucus has concurred, and Tom has generously agreed to take on this significant responsibility – and I commend him for that. I know I am leaving our government in the most capable of hands.
Work on the new budget has commenced in preparation for the next fiscal year; relevant legislation is being developed in anticipation of the spring session of the House; and the important work of governing will continue, uninterrupted.
Everything will be done to ensure the transition is seamless and the major projects before us will proceed as planned, for the greater benefit of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
Let me take this opportunity to thank the many people whose counsel, cooperation and steadfast support have meant so much to me throughout my time in office.
First and foremost, I want to thank my family for your constant love and support. Public service often means great sacrifices for families, and so it has for mine, but my family has been absolutely extraordinary. I could not have served otherwise. I want to thank my district association and my constituents in Virginia Waters for the privilege of representing you and working with you to make a difference.
I want to thank my Party for your tremendous generosity in supporting me at every step along the way. You have always been there for me, and I have always appreciated that.
I want to thank our province’s public service. You are second to none, the finest people I have ever been privileged to work with, and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are blessed to have you working on their behalf.
I want to thank my staff – those, past and present, who have worked with me most closely, covering all the bases so I could focus on my responsibilities with confidence.
I want to thank my colleagues in caucus and cabinet, who, despite the occasional bumps, have been overwhelmingly supportive. We have made friendships to last a lifetime, but more importantly, we have made a lasting difference.
Finally, I want to thank the people of our province, who gave our government an overwhelming mandate in 2011. Thank you for not only believing in us, but placing your trust in us and enabling us to lay the foundation for a new era of prosperity that will benefit Newfoundlanders and Labradorians for generations to come.
In concluding, I want to recall the many women of Newfoundland and Labrador who could neither vote nor run for office, but who did not let that stop them from working tirelessly so women like me could vote, run, serve and lead. Let us give them the ovation they deserve. I, in turn, have derived enormous satisfaction from working to clear paths to opportunity for others.
As the first woman to serve as Premier, I hope I have stoked the fires of imagination in young girls in our province and inspired them to consider standing for public office.
For the sake of our province and everything we aspire collectively to achieve, let us continue to teach our children that there is no greater honour than to serve others.
Let us teach them to take ownership of the challenges they see, and step forward to make a difference wherever they can. Tell them from me that there is no greater reward than knowing your service has made a difference in the lives of others.
The future of our province is amazingly bright. Whether in the company of my fellow Premiers or representing our province abroad, I have always discovered that word of our success has arrived there ahead of me. The difference they see is nothing short of incredible, and they find it hard to believe we have been able to transform our province so significantly in just 10 years.
Witnessing this transformation, I could not be more thrilled or more optimistic about the future of our great province.
Let us resolve to continue the work we have started. Let us resolve to build a better, stronger and truly sustainable Newfoundland and Labrador, where hard work is rewarded, where compassion and fairness reign, and where opportunity abounds for one and all!