Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Kathy Dunderdale speaks in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L. on Nov. 30, 2012. Sources say Kathy Dunderdale will step down Wednesday as premier of Newfoundland and Labrador after cutting a family vacation short over political upheaval. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press
Kathy Dunderdale is poised to resign Wednesday as Newfoundland and Labrador's premier.
Dunderdale, who has come under fire for a lack of ability to connect with voters, will be meeting with members of the governing Progressive Conservative caucus in St. John's on Wednesday morning.
Dunderdale is expected to speak publicly in the foyer of Confederation Building after the morning caucus meeting, CBC reporter David Cochrane said.
Finance Minister Tom Marshall is expected to take on the role of interim premier. Marshall has already indicated he will not be running in the next provincial election.
Dunderdale cut short a vacation after Tory backbencher Paul Lane crossed the floor Monday to join the Opposition Liberals. Lane blamed Dunderdale for poor leadership and for being out of touch with the public.
But Dunderdale's leadership has been in question for months preceding the defection of Lane, a rookie who chaired the Tory caucus. For much of the last year, Dunderdale and the Tories have trailed other parties, showing only a modest improvement in the most recent public opinion polls.
According to an online Angus Reid poll released last week, Dunderdale again trailed all other premiers in terms of popularity.
Earlier Tuesday, former provincial cabinet minister Trevor Taylor, a Dunderdale confidant, told CBC News that no one expected Dunderdale to lead the party into the next election. Taylor said that he expected Dunderdale was thinking about her future recently and "will do the right thing."
Took over reins from Danny Williams
Dunderdale succeeded Danny Williams as premier and Tory leader after Williams resigned from public life in late 2010.
She led the Tories to a convincing majority government in the October 2011 election, on a campaign that focused on making Newfoundland and Labrador an "energy warehouse" as well as fiscal prudence.
Dunderdale withstood criticism over the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric megaproject — despite sharp criticism, polls show most people in Newfoundland and Labrador support it — but lost significant public support with last year's job-cutting budget.
Newfoundland and Labrador has fixed-date election legislation, with the next one scheduled for October 2015.
However, Dunderdale's departure could mean an earlier election. The House of Assembly Act prescribes that when a premier resigns with more than a year to go before a scheduled election a new election must be called within 12 months of a successor being sworn in.
Even before Dunderdale made her decision, there has been public speculation about possible successors, including cabinet ministers Darin King, Paul Davis and Derrick Dalley.
Cochrane said his sources have told him it appears "there will be a quick leadership convention, likely this spring." That, he said, would pave the way for an election no later than the spring of 2015.
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