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Cablegate: Danny Williams Promises More Confrontation with Ottawa

VZCZCXRO5772
PP RUEHGA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHHA #0084 2831443
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 101443Z OCT 07
FM AMCONSUL HALIFAX
TO RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0485
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1223
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHHA/AMCONSUL HALIFAX 1304

UNCLAS HALIFAX 000084

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR WHA/CAN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV CA
SUBJECT: DANNY WILLIAMS PROMISES MORE CONFRONTATION WITH OTTAWA
FOLLOWING MASSIVE RE-ELECTION VICTORY

REF: A. HALIFAX 0081; B. HALIFAX 0077

1. SUMMARY: Premier Danny Williams is planning on a new round
of fighting with Ottawa over resource revenues now that he and
his Tory party have scored a massive victory in the October 9
Newfoundland-Labrador election. The Tories took 43 of the 48
seats up for grabs, the Liberals 3 and the NDP 1, while one
district is still undecided. END SUMMARY

2. Voters in Newfoundland-Labrador have given Premier Danny
Williams and his Tory party an overwhelming vote of confidence
in the October 9 provincial election (reftels). As soon as the
vote counting got underway, it was obvious that the Tories had
swept the province, taking 43 of the 48 seats in the House of
Assembly, including eight of the 11 seats the Liberals had held
previously. One of the eight belonged to Gerry Reid, the
Liberal Opposition leader who said he is prepared to stay on as
leader if the party still wants him. As expected NDP leader
Lorraine Michael held on to her party's only seat in the House,
but the NDP failed to gain any new seats. (The final tally will
not be known until November 6 when there will be a special vote
in one district where one of the candidates died just prior to
the election.)

3. COMMENT: Polling throughout Williams's first term in office
had always indicated that that the popular premier would have an
easy time in his re-election bid. However, not even Williams
himself could have predicted a 70 percent approval rating, which
historians say is the largest since Newfoundland-Labrador joined
Confederation in 1949. Given his highly successful re-election
campaign, Williams is using his ringing endorsement to launch
another round of fighting with Prime Minister Harper over
offshore oil and gas revenue sharing. The premier took
advantage of the national media attention on October 9 to warn
the PM that he was going to have to take on the entire province
if he didn't back down from changes to the existing revenue
sharing formula. That move spells more strife ahead in the
coming months, but for now Williams is savoring his victory and
laying the groundwork for mandate number-two. As for the
Liberals, they are left pondering their future in a province
where the voters are in almost total agreement that their
Premier is indeed their staunchest defender. END COMMENT

FOSTER

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