I'm not much one for predictions outside of my annual, completely futile, total shot in the dark guess regarding the Academy Awards. I have no psychic abilities, alas, and if I could predict things, then 6-49 numbers is about all I would want to be really good at.
So this isn't a prediction, but something I'm wondering about. Is this the year that Danny Williams announces he's stepping down as premier?
That might seem like madness to most of you. Williams remains the most popular politician by a mile in Newfoundland. Hell, you could argue he's the most popular politician in Canada if you go strictly by poll numbers (and yes, I know that Ed has done some analysis questioning whether those numbers are inflated). Why would you step down?
Well, this is my speculation as to why, by the end of the year, Williams might announce his departure.
First, when he took over the job as leader of the PCs lo those many moons ago, he said he was only staying for two terms. This October will mark the half way point of the second term. Most good leaders, when stepping down, want to leave enough leeway to call a leadership convention and then give their successor enough time to put their mark on running the government. And yes, I know, Williams wouldn't be the first politician in the history of anything to lie about how long he was going to serve.
So yeah, Williams takes "a walk in the blizzard" or sees pretty Christmas lights or something next December and announces he's going to step down as premier in May 2010. Plenty of time for the Conservatives to have a small leadership race and elect a new premier. Then they new person has a little more than a year to place his (likely Jerome Kennedy) or her (please God Elizabeth Marshall) stamp on running the government.
So yeah, there's that. But there's also this.
Anybody who runs for politics has a healthy ego. Anyone who believes they can do a better job of running a place like Newfoundland and Labrador than anybody else obviously has enough ego that he could donate vast chunks of it to those less confident than himself and still have plenty leftover to be a raving maniac.
There's the issue of wanting the power to do things, belief that you're the best person to do the job and a strong desire to be deeply liked and respected. I might be wrong about this, but Williams seems to have a more deeply situated desire to be liked (the more cynical would say worshipped) than any Newfoundland politician I can think of recently.
And I think 2009 is going to be a rough year for the province. Again, I hope I'm wrong. But there's too many closures, too many people coming back from Alberta and not going back after their 10 days or so off. Oil prices are low, the fishery remains struggling, the mining industry is facing deep troubles as well.
For years Newfoundland politicians have strived to develop the province along the lines of the "miracles" in Ireland and Iceland. Yet, those two countries are among the hardest hit in the western world by the economic downturn. So what happens if those "miracles" come to Newfoundland? And what happens when you're a premier who really likes to be liked? Do you stick around and try to right a ship when facing factors that are largely beyond your control, or do you go "Well, I've been doing this for enough years, time for someone else to take charge."
I don't know. I think it depends on how 2009 goes. And if it looks like it's going to get ugly. Williams might just go before people start to hate him and blame him for things. Then again, the huge ego and belief that only he can make things better might overwhelm that and he sticks around to right the ship, as it were.
Like I said, could be very wrong, but I think Williams steps down by the end of the year. But we will see...
1. Here not there - Andy Stochansky*
2. You won't make a fool out of me - Flogging Molly
3. Anyone else but you - The Moldy Peaches
4. Sing for the submarine - REM
5. Tomato in the rain - Kaiser Chiefs