Shocked that Williams won't attend tribute: premier
Suggestions are mounting that a rift has opened between Danny Williams and the Newfoundland and Labrador Tories he used to govern.
Williams has decided not to attend a Progressive Conservative tribute dinner in his honour, held in conjunction with a party meeting scheduled for April 1.
"It was shocking and disappointing for me to learn on Friday that he would not be there," Premier Kathy Dunderdale told reporters in St. John's Thursday,
Dunderdale was asked to respond to somewhat cryptic comments that Williams gave earlier in the week, when he confirmed to CBC News that he would not attend the dinner.
Asked if there was a falling out with the current government, Williams said, "I'm not interested in getting into that. Ask the premier."
Williams refused to say why he would not attend the conference — the key organizer of which is his own brother, lawyer and veteran Tory fundraiser Tommy Williams — but said another tribute will be organized at a later date.
Sources say Williams is upset that the government did not push hard enough to have Elizabeth Matthews, his former communicatons director, appointed to a senior post with the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board.
Matthews withdrew her nomination as vice-present for the regulatory board, amid complaints of patronage from Opposition politicians.
Asked to respond to Williams's comments, Dunderdale said she has yet to hear from Williams himself. She described Williams as the best premier in the province's history, and said he left office in December with the full support of the party.
"I haven't spoken to him directly with regard to any issues," said Dunderdale. "He hasn't identified any issues with me."
Since taking office, Dunderdale has largely followed a similar agenda, but has made overtures for an improved relationship with the federal Conservatives and took a more conciliatory role with labour relations.