Nfld. & Labrador

On Point | Kathy Dunderdale talks critics, security

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale says the barbs and stings of online critics have given her a tougher political skin.
Premier gives feature interview to On Point With David Cochrane 22:28

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale says the barbs and stings of online critics have given her a tougher political skin.

In a year-end interview, Dunderdale — who made history in October by becoming the first woman in provincial history to be elected premier — said one of the toughest elements of the job is dealing with withering attacks from bloggers and through social media.

"The criticism can sometimes be relentless, and from a small handful of people, but they tend to be very loud and scathing, and personal, and mean," Dunderdale said on the CBC program On Point with David Cochrane.

"So I've had to toughen up a little bit around [that]."

Dunderdale did not include opposition politicians in that group. Instead, she described the attacks as coming from what she called "the peanut gallery."

The premier, who rarely comments on her security detail, also said she's getting used to having bodyguards around.

"What little anonymity I did have, I've lost," she said.

Dunderdale said concerns for her safety made the extra security — supplied by the RNC — necessary.

"When you have a number of experiences that people get very intimate and very personal, perhaps about an issue that you don't know anything about, and it's not coming from a well-balanced place, then you need to be careful of that," she said.

Welcomes Ball as Liberal leader

Dunderdale said she hopes the choice of Dwight Ball as interim Liberal leader will translate into stronger questions from the Official Opposition when the legislature opens in March for the spring sitting.

Dunderdale has been criticized for refusing to open the House of Assembly in the fall. She described the legislature as dysfunctional.

While the premier said it doesn't matter who is leading the Liberals, "it does matter to me, though, that they represent the other point of view and that they challenge us. You know, a democracy only works really well when people are asking questions. I live in hope for better questions, but we'll see."

Dunderdale, meanwhile, said she is proud to be a role model for girls and young women. She is only the second woman in Canadian history to lead a party to victory in a provincial election.

"I think it's extremely important," she said. "Life impacts differently on women than it does men, so when people are making decisions about women's lives — policies and programs that are going to have an impact — it's very important that all of that be informed by women's experience."

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