Ever wonder why sports teams fire coaches, instead of simply demoting them to work under their replacements? Perhaps because once they’ve run the shop, former coaches chafe under the decisions that their successors make.
Put it another way: once you’ve held the whip, if you stay at the circus it’s hard to be anything but the ringmaster.
Hence the tangly problem of former premier Danny Williams.
Williams has never been shy about, well, anything. He hasn’t been hesitant about making his opinions known, or his belief that past politicians should keep their lips buttoned.
“I find it sad when former premiers comment on current administrations,” Williams said in 2007, talking about comments on the fishery by former premier Brian Peckford. “I pray to God that I never do that when I finish politics. … I certainly hope that I can make a commitment to the people of Newfoundland and Labrador that I won’t provide gratuitous comments or opinions on someone who succeeds you — different times, different circumstances. … I think there’s a point in time when politicians should move on. … Hopefully, I can live up to what I’ve said, and when I get out of politics, then I’ll shut up and go away.”
So far, Williams hasn’t.
He’s shown up for television interviews, bird-dogged the brief House of Assembly Muskrat Falls debate from the visitors’ gallery, and has regularly commented on the project.
It’s gone on for months — no, years.
After the Public Utilities Board said it didn’t have enough information to decide on Muskrat Falls, he had this to say: “I have a serious concern that the PUB quotes extensively the personal opinions of
former bureaucrats and academia, while ignoring the world-class experts at Nalcor.”
In the last few weeks?
After the Muskrat debate: “It’s just such a historic day for the province. Sure the debate is symbolic, and there’s going to be other milestones and other decisions, but this is really important,” he said last week. “I feel really good. I feel very proud to sit in the gallery here today and see that this is going to go through because I do think this is the best thing for the people of the province. … I can honestly say that this has been studied to death. … I wouldn’t have done half the studies that have been done here, because I believed in this from Day 1 and knew in my heart and soul from a business perspective and an analytical perspective that this was a good project.”
Or speaking to the St. John’s Board of Trade on Oct. 23: “I never have nor would I ever put my name on an agreement that is not in the best interests of our province; it’s that simple. … Now, I’m not saying for one moment that the people of this province should simply take my word for it when it comes to Muskrat Falls; that would be foolhardy, it would be irresponsible, and frankly, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are much smarter than that.”
Williams is a private businessman, with personal interests that include being a board member on at least one company interested in cheap power in Labrador.
And his words still have huge public political sway with a portion of this province’s electorate.
He should decide which role he prefers and stick to it. And maybe take his own advice.