Does NB need a Danny Williams?

A couple of guys and I were discussing this question the other day while drinking some pop overlooking the Miramichi river.

Firstly, I’d like to say that it would have been interesting to be a fly on the wall at that fateful last meeting between Danny and Stephen Harper. I don’t know what was said but we can speculate that it was heated. I just saw Danny on CBC hammering Harper – saying giving him a majority would be the biggest mistake Canadians could ever make. I have heard of Tories switching parties. I have heard -certainly – of Tory Premiers criticizing Torie Prime Ministers but I have never heard the kind of vitriol coming out of Danny Williams ever said about anyone – other than a criminal.

But, Danny is the most popular Premier in Canada – by far (among provincial populations). His approval rating is 77% compared to the NL Liberal leader at 8%. I have never seen that big a gap.

Does New Brunswick need a Danny Williams?

I’d like to know what you think.

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0 Responses to Does NB need a Danny Williams?

  1. nbt says:

    I don’t think so. Historically there has always been a premier who acts like a child or a thorn in the side of the PM. Plus, if provincial premiers were ever relevant federally, we would have elected one as our Prime Minister by now.

    Remember, even Chretien, and his top advisor Eddie Goldenberg, were not huge fans of premiers meetings (even thought they held them). Most of their inter-provincial deals were cut on the road, and out of the country, at a trade mission or something. And let me tell you, Harris or Klein usually weren’t invited.

  2. mikel says:

    New Brunswick doesn’t have oil, so its hard to be a dealmaker. Even something like potash isn’t going to make the province rich. Of course there’s something to be said for not bending over ALL the way for corporations, but it could be that Sask potash has other links to other potash sources and this was simply the best deal that could be gotten. I doubt it, certainly not when you look at the deals with other resource interests-the ‘giveaway mentality’ has always been high in New Brunswick.

    One thing about Danny Williams is that even though he’s a millionaire he doesn’t get a paycheque and people think he’s ‘one of them’. But he’s not into resources, so even if an Irving or McCain stood up, its not FOREIGN oil execs they would be against, but their own families.

    But at a basic level Danny WIlliams is simply standing up for the interests of newfies against very rich people. I’d like to say that IF somebody in NB did the same then they’d get popular support, but that’s essentially the position of the NDP, and they are nowhere in New Brunswick. The liberals WERE standing up to foreign insurance companies-right til they were elected. Unfortunately, IF a Premier started talking tough to investors, you know what kind of media play they’d get, which of course will kill anybody’s chances. I would say that EVERY level of government and area in Canada needs a Danny WIlliams. In St. John there’s SOME evidence that the new mayor may stand up to Irvings, but its still too soon to tell.

    Danny Williams is the ‘Hugo Chavez’ of Canada, so there’s really nothing Harper can do to control him. If Newfoundland got a lot of oil money they are not like Quebec-they’d be out of confederation in one referendum. His numbers are twice what Harper’s are, and he’s an interesting comparison to Alberta. As soon as the new Premier said he was just THINKING about changing the royalty scheme, there were protests by oil workers-you certainly never saw that in Newfoundland.

    But I’d finally add that I think a LOT of the problems recounted at this blog over the years can be laid at the fact that New Brunswick doesn’t have a Premier who is even HALF of Danny Williams, in fact the election shows that he’s just about half. But as soon as anybody even TALKS tough about going up against Irving they are immediately tarred as anti business, anti development, communist, tree hugger-you name it. There are actually LOTS of Danny WIlliams in the province-but they aren’t exactly popular here. David Coon essentially says the same things as Williams, so does the Mayor of McAdam. So did the protestors in Saint John a couple of years ago.

  3. Gawain says:

    If by your question you mean does NB need a premier who is unequivocal when necessary and does not suffer the sort of supplicating, careerist political ambition we have seen — without exception — in our premiers since Robichaud, then I’d ask, “where is this person now that we need him/her?”

    That NBT should dismiss Williams as a “child” or thorn the side of the PM who may not be invited to the party, is a gross indictment of the political foundation upon which we elect our representatives and betrays a cynicism that is at the root of the problem.

    I suspect that Williams does not stay awake nights fretting about how he has inconvenienced the PM.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Danny is proof that kindergarten antics are effective in politics.

    However, this case is unique as it was in the interest of taxpayers rather than the typical political motivationj or at least appeared so.

    NB had a Premier who tried the childish (and selfish) antics. It was Lord who managed to blow the federal funding deal for Lepreau despite the prior verbal committment by Martin. That selfishness is exactly what will keep us from the Federal gravy train others are enjoying.

  5. Vincerolly says:

    The most convincing argument about if Williams is good for Newfoundland and Labrador would revolve around whether Newfoundlanders are better off because of his sometimes unapologetically and decidedly undiplomatic single mindedness or whether they would be better served by the wallflower blowhards that currently configure the rogue’s gallery of premiers.

    It is worth noting that The Rock does tend to produce its own brand of no-nonsense but impolitely loud politicians — Smallwood, Crosbie, Peckford, Tobin, even Rex Murphy is a more mumbly variant, and the list goes on. That’s not to say that Newfoundland has not produced its own milquetoasts, but rather that larger-than-life is tolerated and even exalted there.

    In New Brunswick our tendency is to want to manufacture excellence where it does not exist, as with McKenna, and quietly stamp out non-conformity and heterodoxy elsewhere.

  6. richard says:

    “we have seen — without exception — in our premiers since Robichaud”

    Oh for the days of a Premier who saw the problem and knew what to do about it; then had the guts to do it.

    The current crop can’t even see the problem.

  7. Anonymous says:

    What is missing is something to stand up and fight for; if we had oil we’d be looking for a Premier to stand up and protect it.

    The point is, unlike NF and NS, we do not have a royalty deal to bargin with the Feds. So, we should use the lack of a jackpot as a rally cry for the Feds to help NB (just a fraction of the help ON and PQ has received).

    One day, we will realize that PEI is executing exactly that strategy. If we could channel the help to something of meaningful ED potential rather than vote buying, we might be able to turn a corner.

  8. mikel says:

    An easy question is how much support would Graham get if after he was elected his first task was to set up a public insurance system and tell the ontario insurance companies to go suck lemons. We know there is TONS of support for such a move, but I don’t recall much of it coming from anybody at this blog.

    Other WIlliams moves would have been to tell Irving to take a flying leap when they were threatening to leave for Quebec-but there is always the risk they would. Putting higher royalties on potash and banning uranium mining would be other moves. And completely revamping the forestry industry and making Irving pay more tax or royalties.

    There is lots of public support for ALL those proposals. McKenna had the best opportunity, but that was squandered and now we know why. For Williams, again, its easy when you are a millionaire and don’t need to worry about your future. Crosbie had a big mouth, but there’s a big difference between shooting off your mouth and going to the wall to get good deals from the feds and corporations.

    It does come down to personalities. I suspect Abel Leblanc would act far differently than Graham, but we really don’t know.

    There is another point to make there, and that’s that Nova Scotia is having more successes than NB, but they don’t have a Danny Williams. So another question could be “does NB need a minority government” or “does NB need more NDP”. Standing up to corporations is one thing, but not necessarily the ONLY thing.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Minority interests such as auto insurance should not be “election issues”. That defines part of NB’s problem; like the small group from Peti that got tolls removed costing us millions and influencing an election.

    Insurance rates for the silent majority are excellent; it is those with bad records, DUI convictions and other risks that are making the noise.

    I am tired of ‘issues’ such as auto insurance, tolls and moose fencing deciding elections. How about electing a government that has a sound ED plan and demonstrates the ability to execute it? How about a government motivated to improve health care and education. When these issues are fully under control, we can afford to dables in trivial matters.

  10. mikel says:

    Well, you know thats BS right away, NOBODY thinks their insurance rates are ‘excellent’.

    Politics is a collection of minority issues. Economic development is a ‘minority interest’, which is why this blog doesn’t have thousands of commentors and readers.

    Even ED is a collection of minority interests, that is patently obvious in Canada, corporations pretty much run the show, and they are miniscule minority.

    For insurance, I’ll repeat, that IS an ED platform because while people may be ‘happy’ with their insurance rates-which I doubt-we know for a fact that the problem wasn’t those with offences, it was in large part because insurance companies were setting insurance rates based on location-which is why it was largely rural residents making the noise -although certainly not just them,rates increased over 50% in two years and the company SAID that it was because their investments performed poorly internationally. It’s an ED issue because I posted before the numbers-every time you pay your insurance bill that money leaves the province. The committee that researched it found that $700 million more left the province than was put into it. That’s a lot of money, besides which a public insurance scheme would enable the province to address related issues that are lobbied heavily by insurance companies.

    But I seriously doubt people decided their vote based on ‘moose fencing’. Both parties HAVE an economic development plan-its called bending over and hoping to god that corporations will stay or set up in the province. That’s a plan, and they are bending over pretty far to make that happen. The problem, of course, is that that primarily benefits a tiny minority-the Irvings are no doubt EXTREMELY happy with how things are working out, and again,the entire business community has been singing praises for the past five years all while population decreases.

    The issue is the balance between the minority interests. Even in Lord’s case there is NO evidence that toll highways decided the election-simply because there were no studies. However, the media over insurance pretty closely showed that Graham almost won the previous election based on that single issue-so it certainly wasn’t a minority issue.

    There is no oil in the province so there is no one big issue for th e Premier to ‘act’ in a why like Danny Williams. But like I said, there are other similar issues and handing over resources dirt cheap in exchange for a few jobs is NOT why Danny Williams is so popular-its just the opposite. But this blog pretty much shows WHY NB needs a Danny Williams, hell, as David says, this is a province where the opposition party got in and continues the same press releases when labour statistics come out-they don’t even have the balls to admit when statistics aren’t good.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Mikel. Screw efforts in poverty, health care, education and the economy. I want cheap auto insurance.