Newfoundland premier has heart, Olympic connections, and chit-chat
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.
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.
There is only one duty, only one safe course, and that is to try to be right.