The ABCs of ABC
While the federal election unwinds across the rest of the country, Newfoundland and Labrador's Premier Danny Williams intends to put his own stamp on the results of the 2008 federal election with his ABC: anything but Conservative campaign.
The beginnings of ABC can be traced back to the 2006 federal election when Stephen Harper responded to a letter sent by the Williams government asking party leaders what they thought about various issues of interest to the party. While answering the question: Does your party support these reforms to the equalization? Harper responded, "We will remove non-renewable natural resource revenue from the equalization formula to encourage the economic growth in the non-renewable resource sector across Canada."
After the Conservatives won the election, Williams said he looked forward to a long productive relationship with the new government. That relationship started to erode as Williams and Harper tangled over Ottawa's role in Hebron negotiations. It ended in October 2006 just after the Progressive Conservative convention in Gander.
Williams told delegates, after meeting with Harper, that the Prime Minister was unwilling to back up the promise made in the letter. Williams said when the next federal election was held - when it came to Newfoundland and Labrador "there better be a big goose egg for the Conservatives if they haven't delivered on their promise."
Williams formally announced his ABC campaign during a speech to the Economic Club of Toronto in 2007, telling assembled businessmen that the Prime Minister's complete lack of recognition of the promise was only slightly less alarming than his "seemingly anything to win a majority attitude." Williams then went on to encourage Newfoundlanders and Labradorians - and Canadians - to vote "anything but Conservative."
Williams renewed his efforts after Harper called a new election on Sept. 7. At a St. John's Board of Trade meeting Williams referred to the Prime Minister as a fraud, and said, "A majority government for Stephen Harper would be one of the most negative political events in Canadian history."
Harper has responded. He told a crowd at a rally in Harbour Grace on Sept. 13 that "No one can tell a Newfoundlander and Labradorian how to vote."
Harper also said that Williams has a history of fighting with Ottawa.
"Premier Williams didn't like the last government. He doesn't like this government. And I don't think he'll like the next government, whoever that would be," he said.