Danny Williams: Voters 'can't trust' Harper on TPP
Josh Dehaas, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, October 6, 2015 5:26PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 6, 2015 8:57PM EDT
Former Newfoundland and Labrador premier Danny Williams is once again asking voters to choose anyone but Conservatives in the federal election.
The former Progressive Conservative leader popularized the term “ABC” during the 2008 election campaign, after he said Stephen Harper broke a promise on transfer payments.
Williams told CTV Power Play he’s surprised Harper is still “in the game,” adding, “you can’t trust him; he lacks integrity.”
Williams gave the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a reason not to trust Harper. The trade deal between 12 countries was agreed to Monday, but the full text won’t be available until after the election.
“A good trade deal is good for Canada, there’s no denying that,” Williams said.
But Williams said Harper may have given up too much to get the deal done ahead of the election.
“You’ve got a guy now whose back is up against the wall,” Williams said. “He’s two weeks away from an election he’s in trouble in. Is that the guy you’d want negotiating for you?”
The auto parts manufacturing sector and dairy farmers have long expressed concern that protectionist measures currently benefiting their industries would be reduced under the deal.
Since TPP was signed Monday, Harper has promised the auto sector a billion dollars over 10 years and dairy farmers $4.3-billion over 15 years to compensate for increased competition.
Williams said Harper can’t be trusted to deliver the compensation, adding Harper reneged on promised compensate Newfoundland’s fishing industry for the not-yet-ratified Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union.
Asked to comment on Harper’s decision to try and prevent Muslim women from wearing niqabs (face coverings) at citizenship ceremonies, Williams said Harper is “trying to play on bigotry.”
“That’s a great political tactic,” Williams said. “He’s a lousy prime minister but he’s a good political strategist. If he can take minor niche issues and make a big deal about them, he doesn’t have to talk about jobs (and) health care.”
Williams also called Harper and “economic failure.”
“We’re the only country in the G7 in recession,” he said. “The dollar is down to the northern Peso rate that people talked about years ago.”
Williams brought up Sen. Mike Duffy’s expense scandal too. “For (Harper) to stand up as prime minister and say he knew nothing about the Mike Duffy situation when everybody else in his office did (is) not believable.”
The ABC campaign in 2008 included a billboard along the Gardiner Expressway in vote-rich Toronto that attacked the Conservative government.
Williams hasn’t bought billboards this time around, but he noted that a veterans group has been encouraging voters to pick Anything But Conservatives.
Williams’ influence appeared to work his home province. The Conservative party went from holding three of province’s seven seats in 2006 to being shut out in 2008.
The Conservatives won a single seat in 2011 when Peter Penashue took Labrador, but Penashue soon quit over a campaign expenses scandal and was replaced by a Liberal.
Williams is not without his own controversy. He resigned as premier in 2009 after defending his decision to fly to Miami for heart surgery rather than using the provincial health care system.
With files from The Canadian Press