Kathy Dunderdale

Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador • December 2010 to January 2014

After being elected as Leader of the Progressive Conservative party in Newfoundland and Labrador, she led the party to victory in 2010.

In 2013, Canada had six female premiers.

Former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador Kathy Dunderdale laughs when she thinks back to this time.

“I remember being at an event with everyone and Alison Redford, or maybe it was Christy Clark, got up to speak, and said, ‘You know, we’ve got them surrounded.’ And we did! We had women leaders from coast to coast.”

Today Canada has only one female premier, Alberta’s Rachel Notley, who faces re-election this May.

Dunderdale was born in Burin, Newfoundland and Labrador as one of eleven children. She first got involved in politics in the 1980s as a citizen, successfully lobbying Fishery Products International to reverse a decision to close the Burin fish plant. After that, Dunderdale was elected to Burin Town Council in 1985 and later served as Deputy Mayor. In 1993, she left Town Council to run in the provincial election against a sitting cabinet minister. She lost. When she ran again in 2003, she won and was invited to cabinet.

In 2010, Premier Danny Williams retired, and Dunderdale was sworn in as interim leader. She was eventually elected as Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, and led the party through to victory in 2010. In 2014, she resigned as premier and retired from politics all together. To date, she remains the only woman who has served as the premier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dunderdale speaks about the important role that women have played in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador. “We don’t have to dig very deep in this place. We just have to go back to our grandmothers, and how they built this province. My grandmothers – they would have been astounded that their granddaughter became premier. It’s such a leap. We’ve come a long way in a short time.”

Hear more about the Canadian women who have served as a First Minister by checking out our No Second Chances Podcast.