Thursday, January 3, 2008

Federal spy comments 'infantile

This is from the CBC. I guess that since there is hardly any external opposition within Newfoundland and Labrador to the Newfoundland Conservatives that it has to come from federal Conservatives. Provincial politics is one thing, federal another and often the two don't mesh even when the same party is in place in province and federally.

Federal spy comments 'infantile,' Williams says
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 | 10:57 AM NT
CBC News
Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams says a federal minister's claims to have inside knowledge of the provincial cabinet are absurd and untrue.

'He's trying to posture, he's trying to pretend, that he has one up,' Premier Danny Williams says of Loyola Hearn.
Federal Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn, who has sparred with Williams for more than two years, told CBC News last week that he often knows as much about what's happening in the provincial cabinet and caucus as the premier himself.

"That's why we can always be one step ahead of him," said Hearn, who also suggested that he has inside information from the eighth floor of Confederation Building in St. John's, which is the location of the premier's office.

Speaking with CBC News on Wednesday, Williams fired back, saying that Hearn was trying to "inflame" already strained relations between Williams's Progressive Conservatives and the federal Tories over equalization.

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"I'm quite shocked, actually," said Williams, pointing out that cabinet confidentiality is an established element of parliamentary democracy.

"The comments are infantile, but also very, very dangerous."

Williams said he has received calls from caucus members who were alarmed by suggestions that they may be leaking information to the federal Tories.

Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn claimed last week he knows as much about the provincial government as Williams himself.
"What Mr. Hearn has basically done is disparage all of them, because people are out there saying, '[If] this is happening, who's doing it?'" Williams said.

"It casts a shadow over absolutely everybody in cabinet and caucus.… I just hope it's not happening on the direction of the prime minister."

Williams and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have had a chilly relationship for more than a year, with Williams threatening to campaign against Harper because of changes to the federal equalization formula that now include offshore oil royalties, despite written election campaign pledges.

The changes will mean a loss of as much as $11 billion to the Newfoundland and Labrador treasury over the next 13 years, according to an independent assessment.

Hearn has no inside scoop, Williams says
Williams also said he suspects Hearn is speaking without actual inside evidence.

"He's trying to posture, he's trying to pretend, that he has one up," Williams said.

Williams said that Hearn did have friends who had been in caucus and cabinet in the past, but that they have left. He did not elaborate. Hearn, though, is close to current Avalon riding MP Fabian Manning, who was expelled from the provincial PC caucus in 2005 after he spoke out against government fisheries policy.

As well, Hearn tapped former provincial fisheries minister Loyola Sullivan to be Canada's ambassador for fisheries conservation, a few weeks after he resigned from provincial politics.

Further, Hearn said last week that he would be happy to see either Jack Byrne or Tom Osborne — both of whom were dropped from the provincial cabinet in October — offer themselves as candidates in the next federal election.

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