22 April 2010

Western Star raises issue of Danny Williams’ resignation

The Western Star, the only other daily newspaper in Newfoundland and Labrador and the newspaper in the Premier’s district, is raising the prospect that it might be time for Danny Williams to retire:

We’re nearing the end of Williams’ second term at the helm of the province, and it could be time for him to re-evaluate his wish to carry on.

The suggestion comes as a result of Williams’ bizarre meltdown on Tuesday answering questions from New Democrat leader Lorraine Michael:

Barking across the floor is nothing new for Williams but his attack on NDP leader Lorraine Michael seemed to be a little more than the usual bare-knuckle back and forth.

The premier seemed visibly unnerved by the questions about the protracted talks with the doctors ... and dismissive of the questioner. [Emphasis added]

Wow.  Williams was something, but whether it was unnerved or just frustrated at having to run a different game from his finance minister – a house divided? – is another question.

The Star’s suggestion comes complete with a fairly obvious rationale;

It’s a good time to decide if he has the desire to carry on in public life — there are still a couple of years before the next election, the Liberals are having a leadership convention in the fall and there are plenty of Tories who would love a shot at the top job.

Williams talked about resigning in 2006 during his year-end interviews. Here’s the way your humble e-scribbler put it at the time:

Williams announced his resignation - actually that he would not seek a third term in 2011 - in comments made to VOCM and then repeated in subsequent year-end interviews.

Williams' resignation, likely to come in 2009 or 2010 after a decision on the Lower Churchill, comes at the end of a year of continued set-backs for the premier who has been in equal measures petulant and posturing.

He’s also said more recently that he would stick around for another term. But that was before the world knew of Williams’ health issues.  it was also before the scope of the province’s financial problems became clear.  Then there is the ongoing problem with the hasty confiscation of assets belonging to three companies in central Newfoundland.  None have been compensated and the litigation and other costs for the venture are mounting.

Meanwhile, for all the talk about it, the Lower Churchill, remains an essentially fictitious project.  With no markets and no money to build the  $6.0 to $10.0 billion project, it isn’t going anywhere soon.

All that would weigh on any politician’s mind.  But it must weigh especially heavily on the brow of a man who, from the day he was sworn in as Premier, made it abundantly he clear he found the level of scrutiny he faced to be a burden that sometimes seemed beyond bearing.  Williams has had a soft ride from the media until more recently but still he bitched at every opportunity at the questions.

But as the news media environment in the province has returned to normal lately, not a single reporter or editorialist has broached the idea Williams’ might consider resigning.

Until now.