Let me start with a disclaimer - the following is not a campaign manifesto nor should it be considered one. Jerry Boyle, the wonderful character from 22 Minutes, would appreciate that no one from Newfoundland and Labrador lacks an opinion on what is best for us. Sure, even a few people who aren't from home have them too, though often, as Jerry Boyle might say, they involve a pacifier.
Quite seriously though the departure of Danny Williams is significant not simply because of style but because of substance. Much has been written about Danny and his powerful personality. Personalities have often shaped Newfoundland politics but substantive achievements or lack thereof affected our way of life.
Danny did help us achieve greater control over our oil resources and set the stage for us becoming the prime beneficiary of the Lower Churchill development. We must keep moving forward with vigor in these areas as well as others, including determining how best to manage our fisheries for the future and maximizing the benefits from our quietly successful aerospace industry. We must have ongoing and improving fiscal rectitude.
The one thing we must not do is take a step backwards. That is an unacceptable option. Too many commentators are happy to dismiss our current achievements as simply a consequence of high oil prices. What they fail to note is that Newfoundlanders - Brian Peckford, John Crosbie and Brian Tobin among them - fought for years to set the stage for that. Newfoundland and Labrador would not have been enriched by oil if our people did not act to make it a reality.
Whoever leads Newfoundland and Labrador next will not be Danny Williams. For a while they will have to live with the inevitable comparisons - that is fine, as it is politics. They should not be consumed with trying to be Danny because if they try they will fail.
What they should focus on - and this is what Danny had in spades - is to think big and be audacious. Be determined and have clear plans with options. We don't need leaders who are happy to be managers focused on incremental increases to the status quo. That is not good enough. The time of the premier as modern-day fishing admiral has passed.
We are blessed in Newfoundland and Labrador to have extremely smart, talented and passionate people. We must do our part not just as it relates to the PC Party of Newfoundland and Labrador leadership race, but also to ensure that the Liberal and New Democratic parties in the province understand that stepping back to old ways and habits of governing isn't on.
Go forward. Not back. It is the only way to go.