In typical Danny Williams-like fashion, the premier of this province has ended his battle with Ottawa and is keeping his sleeves rolled up to fight for what he sees as best for this province.
Premier Danny Williams roused the delegates at the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador convention Saturday evening in Corner Brook. Star Photo by Cory Hurley
CORNER BROOK - In typical Danny Williams-like fashion, the premier of this province has ended his battle with Ottawa and is keeping his sleeves rolled up to fight for what he sees as best for this province.
At the Progressive Conservative Party of Newfoundland and Labrador's convention Saturday evening in Corner Brook, he announced the party's return to its roots and heeded a heads-up to his provincial opposition.
"Now it is time to unite strongly as Progressive Conservatives, to put the past behind us, and to continue to rely on good governance and leadership for this great province of ours," Williams told the hundreds of people gathered to listen to his address. "Make no mistake, our support for any party other than the Conservatives was strictly to prevent a Harper majority on principle. On Oct. 15, we went back from ABC to APC - always Progressive Conservative."
He said that's bad news for the provincial opposition whom he claims were trying to take advantage of his campaign against the federal Conservatives.
"So, prepare yourself Yvonne (Jones) and Lorraine (Michael) because the honeymoon is over," he said, rousing the crowd into applause.
"If they think there is something wrong with allocating over $600,000 to four opposition members and less than that to our 22 government members, then they are sadly mistaken ladies and gentleman."
In addition, Williams said the opposition gets their salaries and have constituency assistance. He said Yvonne Jones receives $150,000-plus a year as leader of the opposition and that government already put an extra $100,000 in funding for them following the election.
"When Roger Grimes was premier and we were in opposition we didn't have, with 19 members, what they now have with four members - which is $675,000," Williams said. "We cut back on excesses to deal with previous abuse. I am not going back there again.
"So, don't think for one minute that with the federal election and ABC kissy-face, you can do what you want because it is simply not happening."
The premier said the people and their support has positioned this province for greatness, and that the prosperity will benefit generations into the future.
"For generations Newfoundland and Labrador has exported not only our people, but also the resources that should have been working here," he said. "I am so pleased today to stand before that these days are fast coming to an end."
In 2009, Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to become a have province, but Williams said that it can't be treated like a lottery.
"This is the people's money and we can never again spend yourselves into the blackhole of financial ruin," he said. "In these times of very serious global uncertainty Newfoundland and Labrador could not be in any better position than any other province in the country."
He said the province will be impacted by the global economy, but the quality and quantity of the resources here, as well as being fiscally responsible, will overcome it.
A part of that responsibility, according to the premier, is taking a stand against "certain" unions.
"We cannot give in to unreasonable demands at the risk of all other spending in this province," he said. "You think that, as a government, we enjoy refusing Alberta wages to public sector workers?
"We would like to pay them more; we simply can't afford it. We could give nurses, pensioners and everyone everything they wanted, and we'd all be heroes. What about the next generations, they'd be in the same situation that the Liberals left us in.
"Don't get me wrong, I believe very, very strongly in the right of workers to make a fair and decent wage. But, I also know that we can't naively compare wages in our province to those in others, particularly out west."
Williams said the province is in position to offer compensation packages far exceeding previous years, and he said the one before nurses is one such package. He doesn't anticipate a strike, said it would be "fool-hearty", and believes the compounded 21.5 per cent raise is fair.
"We are doing everything we can," Williams said afterwards in a media scrum. "We realize we have to be competitive in the medical profession, and with nurses, and we would like to work with the nurses union to try and find solutions.
"The template is a template, and it is a good one. If it was too low and we had to second guess it that's one thing, but we are now facing a situation where the price of oil has dropped in half. I would think the unions should be really delighted to grab this now and know we are committed and they are secure for four years. That's what I would recommend to the nurses and that's what I would recommend to NAPE."