New­found­land premier has heart, Olympic con­nec­tions, and chit-chat

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT - Fred Jack­son – Win­ston Churchill

When New­found­land and Labrador Premier Danny Wil­liams was in law school, he de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion as some­one who was never afraid to bat­tle. I vividly re­mem­ber when he spear­headed the re­vival of ju­nior hockey in St. John’s and be­came in­volved in the St. John’s Caps of the New­found­land Se­nior Hockey League.

In 1977, Wil­liams coached a Ju­nior A hockey team that com­peted against my ju­nior club. He was a fierce coach but kept the game on the ice. Back then he was sports and com­mu­nity-minded.

It was also dur­ing the 1970s, when he was still in law school, that he led a group of busi­ness peo­ple seek­ing the first ca­ble tele­vi­sion li­cence in New­found­land and Labrador. Wil­liams grew the ven­ture into one of At­lantic Canada’s largest com­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­nies, sell­ing it for $282 mil­lion be­fore get­ting into pol­i­tics.

When he be­came premier he en­hanced his rep­u­ta­tion as a man never afraid to bat­tle. Ac­cord­ing to a poll in De­cem­ber, Wil­liams was Canada’s most pop­u­lar pro­vin­cial leader with 78 per cent sup­port.

This week, Wil­liams’s cross­bor­der med­i­cal trip for heart surgery ig­nited de­bate across Canada and the United States. Dur­ing the last cou­ple of days I have read and heard a mixed bag of sym­pa­thy, sup­port and anger but Wil­liams is guilty of only one thing — be­ing the premier of New­found­land and Labrador, a job that comes with pub­lic ex­pec­ta­tions and re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Folks, Wil­liams is per­fectly within his rights to seek out med­i­cal care wher­ever he chooses, pay­ing for any ex­penses that aren’t cov­ered by Cana­dian medi­care. I have fam­ily mem­bers who went to New York for surgery. He is not snub­bing the Cana­dian health care sys­tem; it’s about per­sonal choice.

Let’s be re­al­is­tic. If Wil­liams and his staff had car­ried out per­fect pro­to­col, ex­plain­ing his health sit­u­a­tion, there still would be heated de­bate over his per­sonal de­ci­sion.

Re­mem­ber, Wil­liams is not afraid to bat­tle. He cer­tainly has heart and grit. This will be a per­sonal bat­tle.

More Cape Bre­ton con­nec­tions

The of­fi­cial 2010 Win­ter Olympics em­blem, which will be prom­i­nent in Van­cou­ver, has a Cape Bre­ton con­nec­tion. The em­blem, a five­piece, multi-coloured inuk­shuk called Ilanaaq (ih-lah-nawk), stands 28 feet tall and was de­signed by Elena Rivera MacGre­gor of Van­cou­ver. She is mar­ried to for­mer Syd­ney res­i­dent Gor­don (Ross) MacGre­gor, the son of Yvonne and Ross MacGre­gor of Syd­ney.

The prod­uct of a na­tional de­sign com­pe­ti­tion, the Ilanaaq em­blem was de­signed by the Yale­town-based de­sign firm Rivera De­sign Group. Rivera, prin­ci­pal of the group, re­ceived two tick­ets to the Olympic open­ing cer­e­mony plus $25,000 as top prize in the de­sign con­test. Her de­sign was se­lected from more than 1,600 en­tries from de­sign­ers across the coun­try.

Gil­lian Grant, 22, of Syd­ney will be head­ing to Whistler on Tues­day as a vol­un­teer in the Whistler Olympic and Par­a­lympic vil­lages. Her ti­tle is host in the Olympic events ser­vices depart­ment. Gil­lian is the sis­ter of up and com­ing fid­dler Colin Grant.

Chit chat

A for­mer Cape Bre­ton Uni­ver­sity stu­dent is mak­ing head­lines in Ber­muda. Jonathan Howes, mar­ried to for­mer Whit­ney Pier res­i­dent Cora Lee Star­zom­ski, is the newly-ap­pointed chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ber­muda Press (Hold­ings) Ltd.

Howes, The Royal Gazette Ltd.’s group con­troller for the past three years, will over­see all parts of the op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing the news­pa­per, print­ing and re­tail sales di­vi­sions. Both Cora Lee and Jonathan are char­tered ac­coun­tants and grad­u­ates of Cape Bre­ton Uni­ver­sity.

It was with sad­ness that the fam­ily of Zelda Reva (Gill­man) Yazer an­nounced her pass­ing on Tues­day. She was mar­ried for an amaz­ing 66 years to well known re­tired busi­ness­man and com­mu­nity leader Jack Yazer. Zelda was a de­voted mother who taught French and was in­volved with the Tem­ple Sons of Is­rael and Hadas­sah Wizo, and vol­un­teered with the Help Line. My con­do­lences to the Yazer fam­ily.

Have a good week­end, Mary Freid and the res­i­dents and staff at Celtic Court.

Farside of me

Build bridges in­stead of walls and you will have a friend.

Fa­mous quo­ta­tion

There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right.

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