Williams' support and success widely recognized

Steve Bartlett
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Accolades pour in from all walks of life for premier

Teresita Williams was arguably the proudest person at the Confederation Building following the premier’s announcement he was leaving politics.

Danny Williams’ mother beamed as she expressed the pride she feels over his many accomplishments as premier.

“I’m very thrilled for him,” she said, adding, “He deserves a good rest.”

Support for Williams, his premiership and even his decision to leave was easy to find Thursday.

It came from his friends, colleagues, business people, the labour movement, municipal leaders and, it seemed, anyone who could talk.

Don Johnson is such a close friend he was appointed chairman of the Williams Family Foundation, the charity to which the premier donated his salary.

He said it was a shame to see Williams leave office, but he said he understood the decision. Johnson was also happy his pal would have more time just to say hello.

“From my point of view, you get a friend back,” Johnson said. “You don’t understand that when a friend gets elected premier, you lose them. The people love the public Danny Williams. Boy, I can’t imagine how much they’d love him if they knew the private one.”

Bob Simmonds is a St. John’s lawyer who was appointed chairman of the Memorial University's Board of Regents by the Williams government.

He was surprised by the premier’s announcement.

“I’m very sad to see him go, but he has done a tremendous job for Newfoundland,” he said.

Simmonds figured Williams would be remembered as one of the province’s most successful premiers and for his unwavering desire to do the best.

“And he did do the very, very best for Newfoundland.”

Good luck to the person that tries to match him, Simmonds quipped.

Municipal politicians recognized Williams' achievements as well.

St. John's Mayor Dennis O'Keefe thanked the premier for what he has done for the province, particularly the City of St. John’s.

“In negotiating deals on behalf of the province, the premier has always ensured that the best interests of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians were kept first and foremost in any agreement and we will all continue to reap the benefits of those agreements for years to come,” he said in a release.

Ed Martin helped the province and premier reach some of those agreements.

He's president and CEO of Nalcor, the provincial energy corporation created by the Williams administration.

He used the term “bittersweet” to describe the premier's decision.

“For the province, obviously, we’d like to keep him forever, but from a personal perspective with what he’s accomplished, I think I’d have to hand it to him, he’s probably making the right decision here,” he said.

Martin said the premier was tremendous to deal with, describing him as “principled, tough, fair, hard working and just a great team player.”

But Williams' efforts in business weren't limited to mega deals.

Bradley George of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said the premier and his ministers have maintained a strong relationship with smaller firms.

“His government has done many good things for small business,” he said.

George expects the positive climate will continue as he feels the premier has left the province in good hands and good fiscal shape.

Wayne Lucas is regional vice-president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, he acknowledged the tough times in the early years of Williams' tenure, such as a 28-day strike in 2004, but he noted also the positive developments in the latter part, as the province's financial fortunes changed.

“We negotiated the best collective agreement for public sector workers anywhere in the past 25 years,”  the labour leader said of a 2008 pact that was signed by other unions.

Lucas said he has a great respect for Williams and noted he was looking forward to hammering out the next collective agreement with him.

“I’ll remember him as a fighter, as a scrapper. But also for that little bit of humour,” he said.

Robert Johnston, chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, lauded Williams' support of policing in the province.

He said Newfoundland and Labrador is changing and, through investments in his force, the Constabulary has built its capacity to deal with the issues that will surface over the next 10 to 15 years.

“(We've) moved to a proactive police service,” he added, “we are now able to better combat organized crime and a lot of that is because of the resources we’ve received from the provincial government.”

“I’m very thrilled for him.” ... “He deserves a good rest.” Teresita Williams mother of Premier Danny Williams

Members of the arts community also expressed its appreciation of Williams' backing.

Allan Hawco, star of the “Republic of Doyle” TV series, said the premier has always been forward thinking about cultural identity and the necessity of the arts community.

“It's kind of a sad day,” he said.

“He’s done so much and I think we’re going to miss his leadership.”

Paul Pope of Pope Productions agreed.

“He’s been a big champion of the arts,” he said. “That’s why I’m here. So thank you, Premier Williams.”

He added the arts community will miss him, but he also anticipates the government support will continue.

“When something's working, it’ll continue to work,” Pope said.

Opinions about Williams' announcement and his time as premier weren't limited to his friends, colleagues or movers and shakers of various industries.

Everyone The Telegram asked had something to say.

Retired St. John's resident Curtis Reid figures Williams walked out a winner who'll be well remembered.

“They’ll put a monument up with a waterfalls by him,” he joked.


Twitter: @bartlett_steve

Organizations: Confederation Building, Williams Family Foundation, Canadian Federation of Independent Business Canadian Union of Public Employees

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, St. John's

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Recent comments

  • geeze
    November 26, 2010 - 22:02

    Aug.4th of this year I had an appointment with a specialist at the Health Science Complex in St. John's. It was a beautiful day so I decided to wait outside until it was time to see the doctor and was just enjoying sitting and watching all the people go by when Premier Williams walks by. As he walked by he greeted people and I noticed he was all alone ...no body guards like some of the past premiers I won't mention here and looking very comfortable in his surroundings.And then It hit me! No big ego here! He IS one of us! I had placed this gentleman on a pedestal from the first time I voted for him and that is not where he wants to be! This man is a fighter who loves this province and its people so much that he gave his all to lead us to be the best that we can be ! When I heard the breaking news yesterday that he was stepping down as premier Dec. 3 I felt like someone had kicked me in the " guts" Then I realized how selfish I was being. Now is his time to enjoy his life and his family. It is now up to each and everyone of us to carry on and make HIM PROUD of US!! All the best Mr. Williams. I have Always been a proud Newfoundlander and Labradorian but your leadership has made me hold my head a little higher!!!

  • Brad
    November 26, 2010 - 11:08

    Of course his mother and the brown nosers are going to commend him. The ambulance chasers and the other barnacles on the Premiers backside have made quite a living for themselves over the years, thanks to being Danny's buddy. I agree he did good for NL, but nowhere near as people think. If oil were still below $50 a barrel we wouldn't be so well off, and our offshore production has peaked and is now on a downslide. I guess everyone can blame the next Premier for less royalties because of dwindling oil resources. Danny went out on top alright, but he left alot of crap behind for someone else to cleanup.

  • Too Funny
    November 26, 2010 - 10:56

    Wow, who pi$$ed in this Danny-hater's breakfast.

  • Ron
    November 26, 2010 - 10:56

    It sure sounds like Scott Free is a very sore winner and looser like all Liberals, Danny just helped the people of Nfld and didn't sell the Province down the drain like Joe did. He didn't fill his own pockets and those of his friends like the Liberals did in Ottawa.

  • Culture at what cost?
    November 26, 2010 - 09:44

    danny Williams put millions of taxpayer dollars into helping produce Newfoundland TV and movies. The opinions of Mr. Hawco and Mr. Pope have been paid for with our tax dollars. The province will not see one dime of the residuals or DVD profits, only the producers.

  • Scott Free
    November 26, 2010 - 08:52

    Here’s a recap and history lesson for the Tory blind faithful and Danny worshippers. First, let’s clearly identify the three main factors that worked in Dan’s favour and which highlight the timeliness of his good fortune. Our premier can’t take credit for our prosperity as it’s out of his control; he was simply the benefactor of good timing. Global oil prices which propped up our local economy. A minority Federal Government in Ottawa, which gave NL more leverage than normal in re-negotiating benefits in the Atlantic Accord. The thousands of Newfoundlanders who are bringing home hefty Alberta turnaround wages, and spending locally which drives our economy. While it can be argued that Danny’s efforts and negotiating skills helped deliver a better package from the Feds, and maybe so; however, his constant bashing of Ottawa has cost us untold billions in other potential partnerships and opportunities. Which leads us to his self-professed legacy, “the Muskrat Falls” no-deal. This is nothing more than an MOU; a written handshake to agree to discuss the parameters of a future potential deal. But, having no rapport whatsoever with Ottawa and no financial commitment, he has nothing; not to mention no lands claim deal with the Innu and no environmental assessment. No wonder he has decided to quit now rather than try to defend the indefensible in the House. Danny doesn’t want questions put to him; we are supposed to do as his puppet cabinet does and accept fully what he says with no questions asked. And, if you happen to ask, then you are somehow a traitor to NL! I will give him credit for one positive action during his tenure; he rid us of a few thieves who were stealing from all of us in the constituency spending scandal. For those of you with short memories, he’s a reminder list of some of his failings. Forced legislation to public service workers; have all the bleating sheep working in the Confederation building forgotten “when the cows come home”? The health care is in a mess and his conflict with doctors and specialists will cause pain and suffering for years to come. Minister Kennedy has all but scuttled any chance of a favourable outcome on this issue. His heavy handedness is second only to Danny’s dictatorial behaviour. Good luck with that. The banishment of those opposed to his views, from former ministers to caucus, ie: Marshall, Manning & Rideout; to a number of behind the scenes managers, who were turfed out for not sharing Dan’s vision; to reprimands to teachers for speaking out; and on and on to unusual and sudden resignations by MHA’s such as Taylor and Oram and demotions and relegation to the back benches of others, ie: Osbourne, Wiseman. The loss of Dr. Eddy Campbell @ MUN and the political interference in the selection process for his replacement which severely shook its credibility and autonomy. To top it off, hand picked Danny supporters replacing contra-minded on the Board of Regents. The $15M fibre-optic cable plum given to his buddies in an untendered and unsolicited bid. His total distain and lack of interest in the fishing industry. The closure of Stephenville mill on Danny’s watch. The Abitibi expropriation fiasco; which will see hundreds of millions in loses mounting. The polluter pays huh, Interim Premier Dunderdale? Good luck with that. The Quebec Innu hunters slaughter of the George River Herd; and nothing done to prevent it from happening again this year; no prosecution to the fullest extent of the law as promised by Minister Johnston. Good luck with that. The loss of oil industry engineering expertise to other countries due to Danny’s inability to compromise and manifest dealings; it has to be all his way or no way. The closure of the School for the Deaf. As you can clearly see, the list of negatives and losses far outweigh the value of Dan’s good timing and on a “go forward basis”, the future is bleak. Imagine the first trip to Ottawa by Interim Premier Dunderdale as she reaches out to greet Prime Minister Harper. “Steve, you remember me don’t you; I’m the same Deputy PC Premier who campaigned door to door for Liberal candidates in the last Federal election in Danny’s ABC campaign; can we talk? We need billions from you to deliver on Dan’s legacy; can we count on your support? Good luck with that.

    • jargey3000
      November 26, 2010 - 10:43

      I remember where I was when Kennedy was assasinated. I remember where I was when I heard about "9/11". And, I think I'm going to rember where I was yesterday morning when a friend told me that Danny was about to resign. There - does that put it in perspective? "But come ye back when summer's in the meadow Or when the valley's hushed and white with snow 'Tis I'll be here in sunshine or in shadow Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, (we) love you so."