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Thursday, November 25, 2010

End of the Williams Era in Newfoundland and Labrador

The first rumblings that something was up began early Thursday morning. This was quickly followed by a brief news release from the Premier’s communications director simply stating that Danny Williams would be going before the microphones to “discuss his political future”.

By 11:30 am Newfoundland time Williams did just that, stepping before the microphones in the foyer of Confederation building where he was greeted by thunderous applause and a chorus of “Danny… Danny” that continued for some time until the Premier asked for the chance to speak.

During his address, which lasted several minutes he discussed his government’s accomplishments and, as he is known to do, quoted several well known figures including the late Orson Wells when he said, “…if you want a happy ending, you need to know when to end your story…”

Danny Williams then announced that he will be stepping down as the ninth premier of Newfoundland and Labrador on December 3, 2010. At that time Deputy Premier Kathy Dunderdale will assume the leadership role until a new leader is selected.

According to Williams the reason for his decision was one of timing. He noted that much of what he hoped to accomplish when he became Premier in 2003 was now in place and he saw this as the right time to hand over the reigns.

During his tenure the Williams government improved the Atlantic Accord revenue sharing agreement with Ottawa, improved royalty revenues and ensured a provincial ownership position on offshore oil developments and most recently announced a 6.2 billion dollar agreement to develop part of the Lower Churchill hydro project.

As federal Liberal MP Gerry Byrne said today, “He’s got his bucket list done, that’s the bottom line. He’s accomplished what he set out to do.”

In spite of less than flattering headlines and commentaries in the national news media where pundits often referred to him as “Danny Chavez” or a “dictator”, Mr. Williams’ accomplishments were substantial.

Beyond those accomplishments previously identified his government also instituted a nationally lauded poverty reduction plan that saw the province go from having one of the highest poverty levels in Canada to having the third lowest. It was also during his tenure that Newfoundland and Labrador paid down 4 billion in provincial debt (approximately 25% of its debt load), moved from being a “have-not” to a “have” province for the first time in its history and nurtured a level of pride among the population that has not been seen in decades.

As a result Premier Williams’ level of support remained strong, in fact even after two terms in office his consistent approval ratings of 80% or higher (one recent poll placed his voter approval rating at 93%) was the envy of politicians across Canada.

Accomplishments accepted, the Williams government was not without its share of problems as well, including an ongoing doctor’s dispute, and the mistaken appropriation of Abitibi’s mill property in Grand Falls-Windsor (a mistake that happened during the adoption of a bill to appropriate water and timber rights from the company, a move that overall was very popular in the province).

According to MP Gerry Byrne, “He’s a loved and hated politician among the political class, but today whatever feeling of animosity people may have is replaced with envy.”

Federal MP Scott Simms told the Globe and Mail today that there are likely a few politicians breathing a sigh of relief – including Prime Minister Stephen Harper”, who ignored Mr. Williams and suffered electoral losses in his province.

Simms was referring of course to Danny Williams much publicized “ABC” (Anyone but Conservative) campaign during the last federal election. A move that saw the Harper government completely shut out in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Danny Williams doesn’t take the middle road,” said Mr. Simms, “He doesn’t relax. For Danny Williams it’s you’re either in for everything or you’re in for nothing. At that level of play it’s a pretty intense life,” Mr. Simms said.

“Williams has an iron fist and a golden touch. It’s going to be hard to find a similar successor in the Progressive Conservative party.”

“He’s one of a kind,” Mr. Simms said. “He just personified something that we wanted for so long. I think what [Mr. Williams] did was instill a sense of pride. ... I just thought he was the right guy for the right time.”

The question now shifts to what's next for Danny Williams.

Never one to sit idle it would be difficult to imagine he has plans to sit on a beach somewhere. No doubt someone with his resume has countlss opportunities in the private sector but unless it's a CEO position on the table, nobody believes Williams would consider it. He's always been a leader, never a follower.

What about federal politics?

Never one to mince his words, when asked today if planned to run federally his response was uncharistically "political" in nature. Williams neither discounted the idea or said he would be interested. He simply said it was not the driving reason behind today's decision but that he has had many people approach him with the offer.

Interesting since there would clearly be no room for the life long Conservative inside any federal Conservative party run by Stephen Harper. That bridge was burnt long ago.

Only time will tell what the (almost) former Premier will do next. In the mean time reaction to the Premier’s resignation has been pouring in from across Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the rest of Canada, ever since the unexpected announcement this morning.


WestEst said...

1 cent (and only 1), says he struck a deal with Harper, something like... 'You what Fed Gov support, for the Lower Churchill Falls project, then you have to resign. It would be funny and sad if it was true!!!

Patriot said...

I agree Westend, 1 cent only, but nothing would surprise me in the world of politics.

Republic Of said...

what will Ottawa do now. I will say now Myles, and you heard it here at Webtalk First. The next grab will be something far more then we could ever afford.

And , who will defend us.Who will make a differance.

" Republic Of "

Anonymous said...

Williams was many things, but unclear and uncertain he will never be accused of.

His resignation is the end of a chapter which began uncertain and where NL's future was cetainly unclear.

Now 10 years later, NL's future is both clear and as certain as it's people can make it.

In the future people looking back will finally realize that what Danny did was to complete what began in 1949. Newfoundland is now a free province, a free and full partner in confederation, and no longer a colony within a country.

He gave back the freedom of determination which Newfoundland lost in 1949.

The question for the next 60 years, is can you keep it?

Republic Of said...

" Newfoundland is now a free province, a free and full partner in confederation, and no longer a colony within a country."

I'm sorry anon. Danny Williams showed us exactly what Canada is all about. There is no " free and full partner in confederation" In my eyes. What Danny Williams showed me is the exact opposite.

That everything we get in this country , be it ours ( off shore Oil ) , or social programs ( E.I ) we will always be the poor cousin that sleeps over on the couch.

The reason why Mr Williams will be remembered is because our province finally had a man brave enough to stand up to all on comers and say " Enough is Enough "

No more give aways, no more stealing our resources , no more free rides. Our citizens deserve more and if they cannot get it inside Canada , then this flag will come down and that one will come down.

It wasn't because all of a sudden we all decided to get along and make merry.What " West End " said at November 26, 2010 8:30 AM, is more relistic .Somebody somewere wanted Danny Williams out of the picture for some reason, and I would bet that it comes from Ottawa.

What Danny Williams taught me the most is ths .If they dont want us to survive in Canada , then we will do it outside of Canada.And, if we are going to stay, then we are going to be heard.

Your view of canada and mine are two totally differant countrys . This picture you have of ten provinces all getting along ,here to help each other out , is ridiculous. Its more like ten brothers all beating the snot outta each other to see who gets to were the good pair of sneakers is more like it.

" Republic Of "

Anonymous said...

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams says he is looking forward to finding out why his name comes up in six documents WikiLeaks plans to release this week.

Mr. Williams said he found out Monday that he is mentioned in the documents but is unaware of their contents.

“I have no idea what that could be all about, to be quite honest with you, but I'm certainly looking forward to finding out,” Mr. Williams said with a chuckle.

everyone thought that I was just a crazy kid a year ago.Now look what pops up. I hope the truth is told about Labrador too , and how the feds poured millions into a separation movement into that region of the province.

All because of air space. This is canada.This is the country we became part of.

Anonymous said...

The province’s contribution also included its strategic airspace and geographic location, one
of the richest fi shing resources in the world, powerful hydroelectric resources (particularly on
the Churchill River), a massive continental shelf encompassing signifi cant oil and gas reserves,
forest resources on the Island and in Labrador and mineral resources, including the vast iron ore
and nickel deposits in Labrador. There is no doubt that Newfoundland and Labrador has made
a magnifi cent contribution to Canada.
$ Since 1949, Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy has become more diversifi ed, real pe

" All Been a Lie After A Liie, In Confederation "

" what this province need s is a Space out of Canada "

Anonymous said...

The poll indicated that only 12
per cent of respondents thought Newfoundland and Labrador should leave Canada and become
an independent country. The overwhelming sentiment is against separation and in favour of
improving our place within Canada.

" Holy Shit " , were done for ???

WestEst said...

Is it me or do the current leaders of the party's scare the S$#% out of you. But worse by far is seeing how much back peddling tory MHA's since DW quit "Take a different approach" screw that! DW was loved because of his approach, right or wrong we knew where he stood.

Can't wait to see who's going to take a run at the lib's leader.

haha i'm done, had to post something somewhere. God Steve Kent is thinking about running for pc leadership. I had forgotten he was a PC MHA!