Not 'buddies' with Harper, Dunderdale says
Kathy Dunderdale suggested Monday that her decision to back federal Conservative leader Stephen Harper in this spring's federal election was about strategy, not making friends.
"For me, this is not about being buddies with Stephen Harper," Dunderdale said during a one-hour phone-in with the St. John's Morning Show.
"I'm not at all interested in those kinds of relationships."
Dunderdale has drawn some political fire — particularly from the Liberals — for her decision to back Harper during the federal election campaign, and for her appearance at a rally in St. John's where Harper announced his support for the Lower Churchill hydroelectric megaproject.
The backing marked a different path for Dunderdale than the more aggressive decisions of former premier Danny Williams, who in 2008 led the ABC — "anything but Conservative" — campaign that shut out federal Tories from Newfoundland and Labrador's seven ridings.
Dunderdale on Monday said she has had no regrets about her decison, and said the decision has been in the province's best interests.
"I don't believe I went too far in supporting Prime Minister Harper," she told a caller. "We have to be able to speak to the federal government, to ensure that they understand what it is that we need in this province."
Dunderdale also defended taking a different tack on federal-provincial relations.
"It is very easy, in terms of the politics of it all, to stand down here and throw rocks at the federal government … and appear to be standing up for the rights of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians," she said.
"We need to be at the table. It doesn't mean we're always going to get heard. It doesn't mean we're always going to agree."
While there has been an apparent rift between Williams and Dunderdale since this winter — Williams dropped out of a tribute in his honour, and has said the Dunderdale government has shut him out — the PC leader said she still holds her predecessor in the highest regard.
"I think history will judge Danny Williams to be the finest premier that Newfoundland and Labrador ever had. He did tremendous work for this province," she said.
Click on the audio button above to hear Dunderdale's full appearance on the St. John's Morning Show with host Anthony Germain.