Danny Williams promised Tuesday night to use Newfoundland and Labrador's oil-based wealth to raise the quality of life in his province and to improve key social programs.
'Our day has finally arrived,' PC Leader Danny Williams said during Tuesday night's leaders debate.
"Our day has finally arrived," the province's Conservative leader said during a leaders' debate, the only one to be held during the campaign leading up to the Oct. 9 election.
"We stand tallest when we stand together," said Williams, who used patriotic language during the debate.
Williams, who is hoping to take the governing Progressive Conservatives to a second term, applauded himself for turning around the province's finances,
"from billion-dollar deficits to record surpluses, in only one term of office."
Williams promised new tax cuts, but also vowed to increase spending on a variety of programs. "This allows us to spend money on the things that matter to you most," said Williams.
Liberal Leader Gerry Reid said the governing PCs are ignoring rural communities.
Coasting on hundreds of millions of dollars of oil-based revenue, Williams is in a favourable position with less than two weeks left in the campaign.
The PCs held 34 of the 48 seats in the house of assembly when it was dissolved last week, but pundits say the Tories are poised to gain significantly more, given the party's standing in public opinion polls and organizational problems involving the other parties.
Nonetheless, Williams came in for an hour of peppering from Liberal Leader Gerry Reid and New Democratic Leader Lorraine Michael, who accused Williams of being blind to the plight of rural communities, low-income families and both patients and workers in the health-care system.
Reid said the Liberals would "share the wealth throughout the province, so that everyone shares the benefit, no matter where you live."
Lorraine Michael said voters should consider the NDP's influence on government decision-making.
Describing the fishery as "an industry that has been forgotten by this government," Reid painted the Liberals as being the party that cares about voters who want to "work and raise their families in their own communities."
Sparks flew between Williams and Reid during exchanges about Williams's leadership style — which Reid described as dictatorial — and over which government deserves credit for the booming revenues that have lifted the provincial treasury out of deficits and into record-setting surpluses.
Williams knocked the Liberals' proposal for a fund for oil revenues, and mocked the party's fiscal management until they lost power in 2003.
"[A Liberal victory] is going to knock out your prosperity fund. It's going to be a bankruptcy fund," Williams said.
Reid, who said the province's current wealth is the result of Liberal policies of years ago, dismissed the barb. "You have not done anything for rural Newfoundland and Labrador, and you know it," Reid later retorted.
Michael, who said she expects the NDP to field 37 candidates, depicted her party as a means to keep government accountable.
"Our voice made a difference, and as a result, there have been changes," said Michael, who held the NDP's only seat when the house was dissolved.
"These are exciting times for Newfoundland and Labrador, but we have to make the right decisions," she said, adding that social services have been neglected under Tory rule.
|Last Update:October 9, 10:58:12 PM NDT|
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