No thirst for separation, Williams says
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams says he has no desire for separation, despite lifting the slogan that inspired Quebec's sovereignty movement for this week's throne speech.
"Our province will achieve self-reliance by becoming masters of our own house," declared the throne speech brought down Tuesday, echoing Jean Lesage's rallying cry, and the theme of what became known as the Quiet Revolution.
"Mine wouldn't be a quiet revolution — mine would be a noisy revolution, because that's me," Williams told reporters on Wednesday.
"The choice of terminology— 'masters of our own house' …that fits the situation. We do want to be masters of our own house."
Williams has established himself as a fiery leader among Canada's premiers.
Although a Progressive Conservative, he is currently aiming his fire at the federal Tories, and has accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper of breaking a written campaign promise on excluding non-renewable resources from the equalization formula.
At stake, he says, are billions of dollars that could turn Newfoundland and Labrador into a self-reliant powerhouse within Confederation.
Although the throne speech embraced nationalist themes, Williams said there is no desire for separation.
"The fans of sovereignty are [already] here. They're here. If anything, I've been trying to dampen those fires, as much as I can," Williams said.
"From my perspective, we want to be a part of Canada. Canada's a great country," said Williams, who then issued a warning.
"We're not going to be slapped repeatedly in the face by federal governments," said Williams, who engaged in a war of words with former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin in the months leading up to the 2005 Atlantic Accord.
While aiming for self-reliance, Williams acknowledged that Newfoundland and Labrador is seeking federal help in other areas— such as securing financing for the planned Lower Churchill hydroelectric project, which has aroused keen interest in power-hungry Ontario.
Nonetheless, Williams said projects like the Lower Churchill project will happen, with or without Ottawa's help.
"[If necessary] we're going to do it without them. Whether that happens to be the Trans-Labrador Highway or that happens to be the Lower Churchill, we're going to move forward," Williams said.
"We can't wait for the presumed generosity and largesse of Ottawa to advance our province."
Williams said the province is well on its way to becoming less dependent on Ottawa, and said that theme will be reflected in the budget to be delivered on Thursday afternoon.