Roger Grimes says Kathy Dunderdale is finished
Former Liberal premier says current political climate similar to a decade ago
Former Liberal premier Roger Grimes says Kathy Dunderdale's days of running the government are running out, and says he's uniquely qualified to know why.
"It's eerily similar to the kinds of things that were happening 10 years ago, in 2003, when I was premier preparing to call an election," said Grimes, who lost that election — which happened 10 years ago next week — to Danny Williams and the Progressive Conservatives.
Dunderdale has been on the political ropes recently, with third-place support in public opinion polls and the recent resignation of former finance minister Jerome Kennedy, who has left politics to resume his legal career.
Grimes said the "very high-profile defection" of Kennedy brought back memories of when he was in the premier's office.
"The thing that crossed my mind is that my goodness gracious, that seemed to be like deja vu. I've seen this somewhere before," Grimes said in an interview with the Central Morning Show.
'Awful lot of similarities'
"[I'm] seeing an awful lot of similarities, in terms of polling numbers suggesting that someone else was very much more in [the] favour of the people of the province; members of caucus and cabinet indicating publicly that after a decade or more in politics, they weren't planning on running again."
Grimes said a key difference is that Dunderdale earned her own mandate to govern in a provincial election, while he had won the Liberal leadership and did not have a direct mandate from voters.
"That's the only difference," he said.
He noted that Tom Marshall, a senior minister who has again taken over the finance portfolio, has said he will retire before the next election, and that others are bound to follow suit.
"Rumours are rampant all over central Newfoundland in particular that a number of currently seated members in the Progressive Conservative caucus aren't running again for various reasons," he said.
"So it doesn't bode well …She's in a circumstance where she's the lowest rated premier in the whole country, which can't be much to sleep on at night, when you go home and think about things at the end of the day."
Grimes became premier in 2001 when he won a fiercely fought leadership race against John Efford and Paul Dicks. Even though the party was still competitive in the polls, Grimes said he could sense where the winds were going to blow.
"I think what we just did by becoming leader was to win the right to lose the next election," he recalled telling his wife after the leadership race.
Grimes said even though the provincial Liberals have not yet selected a new leader, he has the sense that change is inevitable in the next election.
"If I were a betting man today, I would think that unless something drastically changes in the next year to 15, 16 months, leading into an election slated for two years' time, [that] this government is at the end of its line," he said.