So long, premier
The shockwaves from last week’s announcement by Premier Danny Williams that he will leave office at the end of this week after seven eventful years at the helm and 10 years in politics continues to be felt throughout this province, and across the country.
It was an announcement that caught many by surprise, and touched off widespread reaction at all levels, with even politicians of opposing stripes — Liberal MP Scott Simms said “ I’ll miss him” on open line radio — showering Williams with words of praise and gratitude for his spirited leadership.
Williams led this province during a momentous period in its history and, by all accounts, did a phenomenal job. He maintained an approval rating that is unheard of in any free and open society, at a time when the electorate in this province is more enlightened and critical than it ever has been. This, despite being called a bully and accused of being too combative.
Yes, there were times when he went too far, and he was overly-sensitive to criticism at times, but these are traits of a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and goes into every battle with the full intention of winning.
When he came to power after the 2003 provincial election, the province was on the brink of bankruptcy and the future looked bleak. As he prepares to leave this week, we are now a “ have” province — one of only two in the entire country — with the wherewithal to set our own course. The turnaround, in such a short time, is mind-boggling.
There are those who say Williams’ record is just as much about luck as it is about his leadership. But there’s no arguing he was the right premier, at the right time. His tenacity, passion and charisma were just what this province needed as it embarked on a new century, and his contributions — from the Atlantic Accord to Hebron and, most recently, an agreement to begin development of the Lower Churchill — will help cement his legacy as an exceptional leader who helped restore pride and confidence in this province, and reversed an attitude that had many of us feeling ashamed to stand up and say they were are Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.
Even his critics — and there are many — can’t question his love for this province, and his determination to build a solid foundation for future generations. It was hard not to feel like we were losing something special as Williams said his farewells last week, but it was inevitable at some point, and Williams made the right call by passing over the torch while it was still burning bright.
That leads into the next obvious question: how will the political landscape unfold in this province over the coming months?
In our neck of the woods, many were immediately speculating about whether Jerome Kennedy, the MHA for Carbonear-Harbour Grace and a powerful minister in the premier’s inner circle, will step forward and make a bid for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party. Charlene Johnson, the MHA for Trinity-Bay de Verde and the Minister of Environment and Conservation, has also been mentioned as a credible successor to what many are calling this province’s greatest and most accomplished premier.
It’s still very early in the game, so don’t expect either of them to throw their hat into the ring anytime soon. But if bets are being placed, money would have to go on Kennedy taking a serious look at the possibilities. The well-known attorney, who made his name defending the wrongfully convicted, has been the premier’s point man on many of the big issues in this province since being elected to the House of Assembly in 2007.
Whoever gets the job, let’s hope the momentum this province has been riding for the past seven years continues.
Good luck, premier. Dear editor,
When I read your interview Nov. 10 on CBC News about the George River Caribou Herd and the latest 2010 census I had to comment on this conservation nightmare.
With all the technology of the 20th and 21st centuries, we have another species on the brink of extinction.
The overfishing of our cod and capelin stocks along with the steady fall of our onceupona-time great caribou resource is enough to make anyone with an environmental bone in their body cringe.
Are we going to eventually have a moratorium on the caribou also? Can it get any worse? The new count of 71,131 caribou in the George River Herd is barely enough to