Danny Williams says war of words that spawned ABC campaign is over, for now

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Warm and fuzzy: that's how Premier Danny Williams described a meeting Friday with his recent nemesis, Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
It was a dramatic thawing of relations since the spate of "Anything But Conservative" nastiness that saw Williams lead an anti-Harper campaign in Newfoundland and Labrador.
So effective was the premier's wrath during the 2008 federal election that Team Harper was frozen out of all seven federal seats in the province.
Such unpleasantness is over - at least for now, Williams says.
"We had a good discussion on all the major issues," he told reporters after emerging from a half-hour chat with Harper at a downtown hotel.
The prime minister spent a few hours in St. John's on his way back from an economic summit in Davos, Switzerland.
"It commenced with a handshake and terminated with a handshake and I'd have to say warm and fuzzy was probably the way I could describe it," Williams said of the sit-down.
Relations between the two men soured when Williams accused Harper of breaking a 2006 promise to exclude non-renewable energy sources from the calculation of federal equalization payments.
Williams says his ABC retaliation is water under the bridge.
"At this point, I'm not sort of getting out on any ABC campaign. We've been there, we've done that. And that's not even a matter that even comes up for discussion now between myself and the prime minister."
The apparent detente is not without political expedience.
Williams could use the prime minister's help on a number of fronts. They include funding to help buy out licences and overhaul a troubled but culturally vital fishery, and support for access to Quebec transmission lines to harness hydroelectric power from the planned Lower Churchill megaproject in Labrador.
In return, Harper will need fresh pockets of support if he's ever to graduate from a minority to a majority leader.
Williams wouldn't say if he would openly cheer for the Conservatives in the next election. He works first for the people of his province, he said.
Harper says infrastructure projects that are moving ahead in Newfoundland and Labrador show his government and the province are indeed working together.
Speaking to the Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association, Harper cited a $30.9 million announcement earlier Friday by Ottawa and the province to improve nine highways and two bridges.
"A year ago, as you all know, the economy went into virtual free fall," he said.
The prime minister said the best and quickest way to create jobs is through projects that help rebuild roads, bridges, buildings and, in Newfoundland and Labrador, small craft harbours.
"I'd like to also highlight the strong co-operation that has occurred between our government and the provincial government in identifying and prioritizing stimulus projects," he said.
Under the latest announcement, the federal government is kicking in $15.45 million, with the province matching that amount.
Ottawa's portion falls under the infrastructure stimulus fund.

Organizations: Conservatives, Newfoundland and Labrador Construction Association

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, ST. JOHN'S, Davos Switzerland Ottawa Quebec

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