Wednesday, July 8, 2009

All Roads Lead to Ottawa

Hee's Baacck. In the wake of his media scrum and this morning's news cycle, a singular truth is more evident than ever: For the Williams government, everything revolves around Ottawa.

This may seem to be a curious claim to make about a notoriously nationalistic regime, but if you stop and think about it, Williams says practically nothing without reference to Ottawa. I'm not sure that even Clyde Wells was as focused on federal politics during the Meech Lake saga as Danny Williams has been since he took power. From the spin about "going it alone" in foreign policy or resource development, to hauling down the Canadian flag and the never-ending ABC putsch, Williams seems obsessed with the province's relationship with Ottawa. One way or another, Tory politics always comes back to the federal government.

Not convinced? Well, let's take today's news cycle. There are three substantive stories in today's Telegram:

1) Williams' response to last week's fishery protest: "Premier Danny Williams says the fishing industry ought to train its sights on the federal government - not the province - to solve its long-term problems. He said the province has already stepped up to the plate, but Ottawa has not."

2) Williams' statement about the proposed NALCO transmission lines through Gros Morne: "The premier suggested that Ottawa could come up with the extra cash to defray the additional cost of rerouting the towers."

3) Williams' report on his foreign policy junket to Europe. "Because of our unique position, where we've said that we're not totally on side with Canada [sic] in this whole process, I thought it was important that we made a direct link," Williams reported. The story is not available online, but you can view the first section via the Telly's "smart edition" function:

According to Williams' scorecard, today's game of federal-provincial politics is 3-0. First, Williams denied that the provincial government bears any responsibility for the crisis in the shrimp fishery, which is now Ottawa's problem to solve. Evidently, Williams decided that last week's fishery policy -- promulgated in the press release that stated, "the industry itself has failed to take the action needed to address these issues" -- was due for a change, so he switched the blame to Ottawa.

Second, Williams threatened to build a power transmission line in a UNESCO world heritage site unless Ottawa covers the cost to build the towers elsewhere. And finally, he claimed that his relationship with Ottawa is so bad that he has to travel to Europe personally to oversee the province's own foreign policy, though Geoff Meeker has uncovered evidence to the contrary:

If you thought this government was all about going it alone, think again. It's all about Ottawa.

Back to the Future Update

...And it's not as if this is a new phenomenon, either:

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