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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Does the Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Aspire to be Prime Minister?

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the current popularity of Premier Danny Williams is staggering. During the time he has been in office Mr. Williams has actually managed to increase his popularity from where it was during his “honeymoon” period, just after election. Obviously there are those who have not been happy with some of his decisions, but just as obviously there are many more who like his brand of leadership.

What does this popularity translate into for the rookie Premier, and what are his long term aspirations?

These are couple of the questions I recently tried to pose to our provincial leader however my recent requests for an interview have not been responded to in the past few weeks. If I were a paranoid person I’d think I had become persona non grata for some reason. Regardless, these are questions the public would like the answers to and as I have said to Premier Williams communications director in the past, when facts aren't available, speculation follows. So lets examine the situation just a little.

When elected to the top job in the province Mr. Williams made the kind of quick and decisive moves that have marked him as a man of action. His reign has been one of change and new direction which, after many years of the Liberal status quo, was something many felt was warranted. His tough stance on the issues of the day, have solidified him as a strong leader and may have already placed him in position to take the next election when it’s called. But have the events of the past two years impacted the Premier’s outlook on his own future, as well as his vision for the province?

The unspoken thought running through many minds is simply this, "Is Danny Williams happy continuing to fight the good fight for Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada, or does the still fresh Newfoundland and Labrador Premier now have aspirations beyond provincial politics"? Does he plan to continue to grow the province or have his personal ambitions now overpowered his provincial ones.

One has to ask these questions in light of recent events, not to mention the fact that the federal Conservative party is basically floundering in its own crapulence. They are in desperate need of a solid leader and granted, the provincial PC party is a separate entity, but never the less, Conservative blue is Conservative blue.

Nothing has been said on the topic by the Premier’s office, but you only need to look around you to see the possibilities.

In Danny Williams the public sees a strong leader who is willing to put it all on the line for a cause. Whether or not the public can forget his tactic of lowering the Canadian flag during a dispute with Ottawa is something that will need to be addressed, but no matter what the sentiment on that issue, it’s clear Mr. Williams has cemented himself as a fighter worthy of note. In the eyes of all Canadians he is a strong leader and more to the point, he has gained unprecedented support from his fellow Premier’s across the Country.

His battle with Ottawa over the Atlantic Accord placed him in the spotlight and his win on the issue showed his ability to take on the big boys and win. The fact that a deal was eventually signed that became the envy of the 9 other provinces speaks to just how successful his campaign was and this didn’t go unnoticed in political circles.

Premier Williams seems to have a penchant for finding his way into the national press and thus into the minds of Canadians.

Just recently this rookie was selected by his fellow Premiers to chair the newly formed Pan Canadian Energy Group, which will be calling on Ottawa to acknowledge the constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces in energy negotiations. This nomination being bestowed on a first term Premier from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which is a mere infant in the world of oil and gas, is a resounding endorsement from his fellow Premiers. Especially when you consider the fact that the likes of Ralph Klein from Alberta will also sit on this panel.

Now it appears Premier Williams will be acting as co-chair at the New England Governor’s Conference. Pretty heady stuff to say the least and great stepping stones for anyone interested in a career on the federal scene.

Over the past few months Mr. Williams has also endeared himself to the great unwashed masses by baring his chest to the U.S. ala Pierre Trudeau. First the little guy from Newfoundland and Labrador put the nation on alert and forced a costly delay in a NASA rocket launch that was to pass over our waters. On top of this he is taking them on again by refusing to accept an altered U.S. version of daylight savings time. Although we don’t usually talk about it, it remains a fact that the average Canadian just loves a leader who isn’t afraid to take on our neighbour to the south.

Of course there is no hard evidence that Premier Williams has his sights set on Canada’s top job and even less evidence that he could ever win it, but if someone were to examine his resume during his short time in office, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see how he might begin to harbour such aspirations and may even be moving in that direction already.

Of course time will be the only judge of exactly where his personal brass ring is hanging and if his love of Newfoundland and Labrador can outweigh his ambitions. In the mean time there will no doubt be an undercurrent of concern in the province. Not that Mr. Williams’ goals and those of his home province need to be mutually exclusive. It’s simply a matter of wondering whether a decision to make a run at the top job, means he might sell our social, economic and political future down the Churchill River in the process.

I’m not trying to impugn Mr. Williams character, in fact I like much of what I’ve seen from him to date, but if anyone has a right to fear being sold out by politicians, it’s Newfoundlanders and Labradoreans. That isn’t speculation. Just the facts.


NL-ExPatriate said...

Do you think the Federalists ON, QC will ever forget his lowering of the flag?

Patriot said...

I believe the public will. If you read my piece on intelligent voting you can understand why I feel this way. The average voter only remembers the past few months and will vote for anyone who says what they want to hear.

The press might might make some use of the issue but not in a big way as they wouldn't want to be seen as influencing an election.

The opposition (primarily the Liberal party) might also use it in a smear campaign but it would be easy to counter them by bringing up the fact that what caused it was broken Liberal promises.

MrChills said...

I have a hard time believing that people will forget the dropping of the Canadian Flag.

Just this past election in the US John Kerry lost major ground due to his campaign against the Vietnam war 30 years ago.

However, Williams thus far has been one of the few political people recongnizable across the country from Newfoundland. As sad as it seems, it might just take a Newfoundlander to be Prime Minister before we ever get a true voice at the Federal table.

Gordon said...

Does Danny speak French fluently? If not, he simply does not have a chance. Language is an inevitable factor in federal elections.

Patriot said...

The man is worth untold millions. I'm sure he can afford the french lessons.

crazy american said...

perhaps, it would be better to ask whether it should first be necessary to teach the folks in Ontario the wondrous strains of Newfoundland English :)

Gordon said...

I'm sure Danny can afford French lessons, but that does not mean he can or ever will speak French. Everyone knows a lot will be made about it if he would ever be considered a possible candidate. I think a person with real PM ambitions would have learned Canada's two official languages long before bloggers and others started throwing his/her name around as a possible candidate, if only to prevent the knee jerk negative reaction of the Canadian media, especially the CBC, which is not only bilingual, but it is smug about it.

I recall back in 1990 after the Meech Lake fiasco. For a brief period, people were talking about Clyde Wells being PM. He even started taking French lessons. The CBC crew went to one of his lessons and he spoke French. Yes, he told the whole world "La mere, le pere, et l'enfant tombe dans le mer". I believe that is, "the mother, the father and the child fell in the sea". I watched this on TV in Montreal with some friends. Everyone simply broke out in laughter. It was not that that he pronunciation was bad, but here was a man in his fifties learning a language these 20-somethings had acquired in their childhood. It's linguistic snobbery, I know, but linguistic snobbery (imperialism?) is part of the established Canadian media. You cannot get around it.

I think it would be more dignified for a Newfoundlander/Labradorian to aspire to be an elected lieutenant governor and statesman...... in an independent Newfoundland and Labrador.

NL-ExPatriate said...

Good comments Gordon I especially like and agree with your use of snobbish and Imperialism to describe our national media. Having lived in Quebec during the Referendum and most other provinces I feel I have first hand experience.

"It's linguistic snobbery, I know, but linguistic snobbery (imperialism?) is part of the established Canadian media."

I was only being devils adocate when I asked the question? "Do you think the Federalists ON, QC will ever forget his lowering of the flag?" I think people will if anything respect his stand.

It's not what the people of Canada think but rather what they are told to think by CBC (boss)?

Canadian Bulls*%$ Corporation!

Once again Martin is at it Telling me and you (people) what we want?
In a statement yesterday he's telling me I want a majority government (he's being careful this time also, adding that his ministers should be careful not to seem smug about it)?

In the mean time wasn't it just the other day he was saying we wanted a minority government? Make up your mind Paul what do you want us to think?

Bla Bla Bla na na na I can't hear you!

I feel this is the only way to stop from being brain washed by the Canadian BullS&^% Corporations boss!

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