One last time

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Cory Hurley
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People crowd west coast for final opportunity to see leader

Premier Danny Williams speaks to a crowd of people gathered at the Pepsi Centre Monday in Corner Brook for his farewell meet and greet.

Corner Brook

Danny Williams took the time to shake hands, hug and exchange pleasantries with hundreds of people who gathered in Corner Brook to say thank you and goodbye to the premier Monday.

The charismatic and down-to-business leader of Newfoundland and Labrador last week announced his resignation from politics, effective Friday.

The member for Humber West came to Corner Brook, a place he referred to as his political home — the place where he was given his opportunity to become premier. Before he received the support of the people of this province, he said he had to earn the confidence of a district — something he did in Corner Brook.

“June 19, 2001, when we had that election, you launched me,” he said. “You launched my career as the leader of the party. If I hadn’t won that battle, I was in big trouble.

“I placed my confidence in your hands. You had faith in me and you have not let me down since. I will be forever, ever indebted to the people of this great city and the people of Humber West for supporting me at that time.”

Williams said the area has gone through a transformation in the years since, from a place he referred to as dormant to a community energized and poised to continue in greatness. During the past week, Williams has received the credit for that from his political colleagues to community leaders, but Monday, he said it was a team effort.

He also took some time from the celebration to turn political. Although he called Tory times good times, he said it is important not to let his resignation lead to a loss of support for the Conservatives.

“Don’t make the mistake of changing that the next time around,” he said. “This government needs to continue on.”

While he said he put much time and consideration into his decision to walk away at this time, it hasn’t made the last number of days any easier for him.

“I should be at the stage now, three or four days later, where I am starting to feel really, really happy about the fact this burden, this obligation, this liability is off my shoulders,” he said. “Nothing is further from the truth. I am feeling worse by the day.”

“I think he was the best thing that ever happened to us, and we will miss him for a long time.” Trudy Crocker

That comment caused the boisterous crowd — who applauded his entrance, gave ovations at nearly every strong statement, and chanted his name — to shout for him to stay.

The evening included emotional speeches from Linda Roche, the premier’s executive assistant, and heartfelt words from one of Williams’ right-hand men, Tom Marshall.

The crowd was filled with Corner Brook councillors, community leaders, Conservative party association members and constituents. While there wasn’t a lot of hoopla generated prior to the gathering, some individuals travelled from various parts of the west coast to see the premier one last time while he is the province’s leader.

Williams accepted each person’s hand or arms, and listened thoughtfully as people shared stories of past meetings or historic occasions in his short time as premier. Most times he shared his own thoughts back, smiled and laughed with each person.

After a brief conversation and a hug with Williams, Trudy Crocker, who travelled from the Northern Peninsula for the chance to see the premier in person, said every kilometre she drove was worth it. She said she would have been content to sit in the crowd, listen to his speech, and drive home again. The opportunity for a few seconds of one-on-one time, she said she will forever cherish.

“I can’t believe he did that for us,” she said. “I had the chance to say thank you and to wish him all the best, I never thought I would get to do that.

“I think he was the best thing that ever happened to us, and we will miss him for a long time.”

The Western Star

Organizations: Conservatives

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Humber West, Newfoundland and Labrador Western Star

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Recent comments

  • W McLean
    December 02, 2010 - 08:51

    Andre, who said "Corner Brook hasn't benefitted?" It is a MASSIVE stretch — if you object to stretches in general — to say that Corner Brook was "dormant" before Danny came along.

  • Sara Gulaker
    December 01, 2010 - 03:26

    Prime Minister Williams. That's where he's going. The premiership was always just a warm up.

  • W McLean
    November 30, 2010 - 20:26

    Andre, the data, whatever its age, spans the transition from the B.D. (Before Danny) years to A.D. (Anno Dannini). I don't know that I've ever actually set foot in Corner Brook, but I have been past or over it many times... I don't recall it being "dormant" before November 2003 when Danny Williams took office. Did the sun also rise at his behest every morning?

    • Andre
      December 01, 2010 - 08:49

      Not sure who made the leap to danny williams being responsible for the sun rising. Maybe you're a little too attached to this guy? All I know is it probably isn't a bad thing to have two districts in corner brook held by two cabinet ministers. Maybe they haven't turned corner brook into new york city, but to imply corner brook hasn't benefitted is a bit much isn't it?

  • andre
    November 30, 2010 - 14:24

    Hey W Mclean, nice four year old data. Now do massey drive, pasadena and deer lake...

  • W McLean
    November 30, 2010 - 12:10

    Population of Corner Brook, 2001: 20,103 Population of Corner Brook, 2006: 20,083 Thank you, Danny Wiliams, for awakening the dormant giant.

    • Graham
      November 30, 2010 - 13:44

      A fine illustration of lies, d@mn lies and statistics.

  • Brad
    November 30, 2010 - 11:52

    Do you promise One Last Time. Is this the last time we see him?