pei-li-danny-williams

Danny Williams is refusing to attend a tribute dinner that was planned for this weekend. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Several Newfoundland and Labrador cabinet ministers did their best Monday to scuttle suggestions the governing Tories are falling out with Danny Williams.

Williams, who last week abruptly cancelled participation in an April 1 tribute dinner in his honour, told reporters Sunday that the governing Progressive Conservatives under Kathy Dunderdale are distancing themselves from him.

"I don't have any explanations for the reasoning, I actually can't understand it," Williams said.

"That's her prerogative and that's her choice. Little things like they don't even want me to have the cell numbers of cabinet ministers - I mean, I can't explain that."

Williams's decision to pull out of the tribute dinner has caught the Tories off guard, with Dunderdale visibly struggling to hold her composure last Thursday while she said Williams holds the full respect of the cabinet and caucus.

At Confederation Building on Tuesday, ministers played down problems between Williams and the party he used to govern.

"Nah, there's no rift in the party," said Tourism Minister Terry French.

"Everyone has their disagreements sometimes, but we're still one happy party."

Natural Resources Minister Shawn Skinner indicated key members of the party are not even aware what triggered the fuss.

"I think things are fine. I'm not sure exactly what he's referring to," Skinner said.

Labrador Affairs Minister John Hickey said there really isn't much dividing the two sides.

"I've had conversations with him, yeah. He's doing well," said Hickey. "I wish him all the best."

Dunderdale was not at the legislature on Monday.

Williams has said he will attend a tribute dinner at another date. The dinner this weekend is tied to a meeting that will formally recognize Dunderdale as the party's leader.