It may be the time to abandon the ‘King’ nickname. If Danny Williams isn’t held to task for the verbal diarrhea he unleashed last Wednesday afternoon, he should cease to be ‘King Danny’ and forever be known as ‘The Deity Formerly Known As King Danny.’
Why the change?
C’mon, it’s obvious.
Nowhere else in this country, this continent, this planet, could a politician pull off such a blunder-prone, monumentally flawed move like the expropriation of Abitibi-Bowater’s Grand Falls operation and still be in office without serious credibility issues hanging over their head (well, OK, maybe a dictactor would be fine too).
But last Wednesday Williams was pleased to report that he’s ‘very, very happy’ that Ottawa will have to fork out $130 million to pay for his gigantic mistake. In case you missed it, the feds will pay that princely wad of cash to Abitibi Bowater to compensate for what amounts to little more than Williams’ desire to score political points by poking a stick into a departing company’s eye.
But wait – besides accidentally expropriating the mill too, it wasn’t a mistake, was it Mr. Premier? According to you, it was ‘probably one of the actions that I’m the most proud of’ since you came into office.
Pardon my French, but what the hell? What is there to be proud of here?
Ottawa – which, for the record books, was always going to be on the hook for any payment (the constitution covers that part of free trade agreements) – looked through the Abitibi versus Newfoundland and Labrador case and decided that paying out $130 million was probably a cheaper option than fighting. What does that say about whether or not the province’s expropriation was legally sound?
Where does Mr. Williams think Ottawa gets its money – the magical money tree? All the premier has done is guarantee everyone in the country will help pay for his outrageously stupid move.
And just as an added bonus, the taxpayers of Newfoundland and Labrador will get the double-whammy: long after Mr. Williams has left politics behind, the men and women of this province will still be paying more taxes to clean up the poisoned site that their dearly departed premier accidentally expropriated.
Let’s turn things over to Kevin Gaudet of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation for a moment, who had a few things to say in the wake of Williams’ ‘very, very happy’ comments.
“Danny Williams has managed to put taxpayers in Toronto, Weyburn, Vancouver, Kamloops, Halifax on the hook for his big ego,” he said. “Because he doesn’t do his work in advance, now we’re on the hook. Maybe there would have been better ways to avoid this type of liability issue earlier if he paid more attention.”
What did Williams think about that argument?
Simple: he defaulted to his tried-and-true method of chest-beating about how Newfoundland and Labrador has made contributions to Canada that somehow outweigh what everyone else has done. Again, what the hell? Couldn’t just about every province make that same claim?
Here’s Gaudet again: “Every province and territory can make its argument about its unique contributions to the country. Danny Williams’ ego is writing cheques that Canadian taxpayers are footing the bill for.”
The real point to this whole sorry saga is this: Williams is trying to turn his own colossal blunder (perhaps his biggest since coming into office) into a victory, hoping that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will swallow his nationalistic, won’t-stand-up-to-any-kind-of-logical-scrutiny 'logic' once again.
If the people take the bait on this one, Williams must go down in the history books as the premier-turned-God who could magically transform scandals into victories and make all his self-created problems disappear by angrily uttering one of two magic words: “Ottawa” or “Quebec.”
Guest editorial by Andrew Waugh, former editor of the Labradorian, who writes from Dartmouth, NS.