Former Newfoundland premier Tom Rideout quits politics

Former Newfoundland Premier Tom Rideout is quitting his seat in the provincial legislature, ending a feud with Premier Danny Williams that spilled into the public arena last month.

Former Newfoundland Premier Tom Rideout is quitting his seat in the provincial legislature, ending a feud with Premier Danny Williams that spilled into the public arena last month.

Rideout, who served briefly as premier in 1989, quit his cabinet seat and as deputy premier in May amid what became a very public spat with Williams over government spending in Rideout's district.

Rideout, 60, was not available for comment Monday.

In a statement, Williams paid tribute to Rideout, who spent more than 25 years in provincial politics during two separate stints as a member of the legislature.

"Whether as a premier, opposition or government member, Mr. Rideout has had a long and distinguished career as a politician in this province and I thank him for his contributions," Williams said in a statement.

Rideout quit as minister of fisheries and aquaculture in May. He said the premier's office had asked him to rescind a government spending announcement concerning $3.5 million worth of road work in his district of Baie Verte-Springdale.

By contrast, Williams and several government ministers said Rideout had tried to intimidate government officials by demanding extra spending in his district. His district had originally been allotted $2.5 million.

Transportation and Works Minister Dianne Whalen said last month that Rideout had threatened to quit if she did not approve an extra $1 million in spending. Rideout denied the charge.

Rideout's political career spanned much of his adult life.

He was first elected, as a Liberal, in 1975, and represented his Baie Verte-area district until 1991.

A star in the Brian Peckford Progressive Conservative government, Rideout won a heavily contested leadership race in 1989 to succeed Peckford. However, he called a snap election soon after winning the race, but lost the subsequent general election to the Liberals under Clyde Wells.

Rideout became a lawyer after leaving politics in 1991, but returned in 1999 to win the Lewisporte seat for the Progressive Conservatives. For the last election, in October 2007, Rideout returned to his roots and ran for the Tories in Baie Verte-Springdale.