Susan Sullivan reacts to Dunderdale resignation
© Advertiser file photo
Premier Kathy Dunderdale talks to a Grand Falls-Windsor resident at last year’s annual Salmon Dinner, while Health and Community Services Minister Susan Sullivan (left) and Lieut. Gov. Frank Fagan and his wife Patricia look on.
A mentor, friend, and principle-minded decision maker are just some of the terms Susan Sullivan, Minister of Health and Community Services and MHA for Grand Falls-Windsor-Buchans, used to describe Premier Kathy Dunderdale.
Sullivan, who was elected in 2007, was not only a colleague of Dunderdale’s but a close friend.
The pair were often seen together at functions in Grand Falls-Windsor such as Salmon Festival activities, and even ran the Centennial Cup Road Race together in 2011
When contacted by The Advertiser on Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after Dunderdale announced her resignation, Sullivan said, “This is a decision that the Premier…came to over a period of time.
“She made a decision that was right for her and right for her family,” Sullivan said, adding that it was a decision she believes was made with the best interests of the Progressive Conservative party, and the province, in mind.
“In all decision making that I’ve seen Premier Dunderdale make, it has always been around principles, it has always been about values,” Sullivan said. “I believe in her own reflecting and her own reaching back, that’s what she did here. I applaud her for all that she’s done and I’m very respectful of the decision she’s made.”
Sullivan says Dunderdale was her mentor following her 2007 election.
“When I came to government the issues around Abitibi Consolidated were very much a reality of what I was dealing with in my district, and at that time (Dunderdale) was Minister of Natural Resources was very involved in that file,” Sullivan said. “Right from the get go she became a mentor to me.”
Sullivan said while she’ll miss working alongside Dunderdale as Premier, they will still be working together in a professional capacity in the House of Assembly for a period of time.
“She’s not gone very far,” Sullivan said. “She’ll still be with our party there’s no question - she’s a woman who is very dedicated to the party.”
Future of the party
Despite the recent dip in support for the Progressive Conservatives and questions surrounding Dunderdale’s leadership on a number of issues, Sullivan said she’s optimistic about the party’s future.
“We’re the governing party of Newfoundland and Labrador with 30 odd seats, and I still believe we’re a good team,” she said. “I can tell you the party itself is strong…the grassroots of the party is strong. I can speak from the perspective of my own district association and the tremendous amount of support I have there, and I’m sure that all of the members of our caucus are able to report similar stories.”
Sullivan said she believes Dunderdale has done tremendous work for the province in her time as Premier, and has helped strengthen both the party and the province.
“When we look at Muskrat Falls, the federal loan guarantee, White Rose extensions, and the CETA (Canda Europe Trade Agreement) deal, the fact that this Premier was able to bring $400 million dollars as a result of negations that she did around that table when we didn’t have a chip to put to put on the table is pretty significant I believe,” Sullivan said.
However, she sad, sometimes with big changes comes criticism.
“There’s been some very good work done, I understand that sometimes when we make tough decisions that the polls might reflect how people feel particularly if they’ve been affected, ” Sullivan said, adding that in her opinion, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador see the party as a responsible government.
While Sullivan said she has not considered a run for the leadership of the party, she believes the process will bring renewal to the party.
“Leadership reviews always bring an opportunity for the party to hit the reset button, I believe that will happen for us over the next bit of time.”