04/16/2013 01:02 EDT | Updated 06/16/2013 05:12 EDT

Kathy Dunderdale, Newfoundland And Labrador Premier, Threatened Online: Justice Minister


ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - The Newfoundland and Labrador government has reported to police online postings that it says threatened the life of Premier Kathy Dunderdale.

The Progressive Conservative government also moved Tuesday to suspend NDP member Gerry Rogers who was added to the Facebook group on which commenters made the threats. Rogers said she was added to the site without her consent, refused to apologize, and was led out of the legislature on a point of contempt.

She will return to the house of assembly on Wednesday.

Justice Minister Darin King, who is also the government house leader, read from the online postings into the legislative record.

"She's the most useless premier we ever had. I can't believe nobody (has) not ... JFK'd her already and sniped her out," King read.

Rogers said she was added to the Facebook group without her agreement or knowledge by someone she doesn't know.

"I'm appalled at the attempt to impugn my name and my reputation without fully investigating the situation, and with what seems to be a total misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of social media," Rogers said outside the legislature. "My whole career has been about working against violence. I did not join this Facebook group.

"Anybody can take your name and add it to a group without your knowing."

Dunderdale countered that notifications are sent to inform Facebook users that they've been added to a group. She said it's up to members of the legislature to vigilantly check comments on such sites if their names are connected to them.

"Your name is up on a site, you have a lot of other people who are associated with you that are on that site, that one would think (are) familiar with what's going on there. You have a responsibility to ensure that your name is being used in the most appropriate way."

NDP spokeswoman Jean Graham said notifications can easily be overlooked in the barrage of emails that legislature members receive each day.

Rogers said later Tuesday that, in the interests of legitimate free speech, she won't leave the group until she has had a chance to review its purpose.

"My understanding is that threatening comments were removed a number of days ago and the individual responsible for those comments is being investigated by police — as should happen."

A police spokeswoman said the information has been relayed to the criminal investigation unit of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary to determine if the content constitutes a criminal matter.

Dunderdale said she has had to reconsider having her five grandsons over to her St. John's home in light of threats that she said police are taking "very seriously."

She said she has also had to explain to her grandchildren the meaning of signs such as one outside a chiropractor's office in nearby Conception Bay South that said "Dunderdale Boo Hiss."

It has been a rough ride for the Tories and particularly for Dunderdale in recent months. Her personal popularity is now among the lowest of all premiers, a recent poll has suggested, and she has felt the brunt of anger since last month's deficit fighting budget slashed 1,200 public sector jobs.

Dunderdale said that twice in recent weeks furious union members have berated her for the province's financial state.

Opposition members have accused the government of recklessly squandering unprecedented wealth from offshore oil earnings. The province now faces a forecast deficit of almost $564 million this fiscal year after the global economic slump hit oil and mineral earnings hard.

Rogers said she believes that the attempt to suspend her is the government's bid to distract from what politicians should be discussing — the impact of the budget.

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