Sunday, April 15, 2007

Westcott speech continues to make ripples

Craig Westcott’s March 29 speech to NOIA, the full text of which was posted on this blog back in March, continues to have an impact. Between five and 10 percent of the hits here continue to originate from a Google search for ‘craig westcott speech’ and they’ve been coming from all over North America.

The hits have actually seen an uptick over the last few days, and I have pinpointed the cause. Macleans’s has posted an article at its web site about an ‘Alternative narrative to the Danny Williams success story’, which appears in the April 16 edition. I have copied the full text of the article below, and you can link to it here.

Questioning the Williams juggernaut:

An alternate narrative to the Danny Williams Success Story began circulating in Newfoundland last week

By CHARLIE GILLIS, Maclean’s, April 16, 2007
It's taken some time to gain traction, but an alternate narrative to the Danny Williams Success Story began circulating in Newfoundland last week, finding a receptive audience both inside and outside the province. In a manifesto-style speech to a gathering of oil industry types in St. John's, Craig Westcott, publisher of the upstart newspaper the Business Post, painted the province's tough-talking premier as a power-mad demagogue whose hardline tactics against offshore oil developers will soon beggar his people. "Danny Williams loves power," said the veteran journalist, who is known as a tough talker in his own right. "He lives for it. He revels in it. He likes to show everyone he's the boss." The result, said Westcott, is a population afraid to speak out against actions that are damaging the economy. "You've got to watch your Ps and Qs, stroke his ego," he said in his address.

To put it mildly, Westcott is swimming upstream. The premier's approval rating stands at a stunning 74 per cent; even members of Westcott's audience seem uneasy with his stridency. "As at the end of any speech, he was given customary applause by the audience," says Ted Howell, president and CEO of the Newfoundland Ocean Industries Association, who was careful not to endorse any of Westcott's depictions of the premier. As for Williams himself, a spokeswoman dismissed Westcott as a serial exaggerator who has been "incredibly, incredibly critical" of the premier in the past.

Perhaps. But Westcott's methodical attack seems to have struck a chord, drawing record readership when transcripts surfaced on political blogs in Newfoundland, generating rich fodder for open-line radio shows. By Monday, his words were filling the inboxes of government and media types in Ottawa. Not quite a groundswell, Westcott cautions, but the buzz just might cause some Newfoundlanders to start thinking critically about their leader. "I've never seen a guy enjoy so much popular support," he says. "Personally, I think it's kind of dangerous."

- end -

For his part, Westcott says his speech has generated a flood of attention that is almost overwhelming. In the April 11 edition of The Business Post, Westcott writes:

“All week, the phone hasn’t stopped ringing and the email hasn’t stopped filling up with messages about the speech (as of this writing there are 105 emails that I haven’t had a chance to open yet)… Since the speech was delivered I’ve been approached by VOCM Radio (twice), CBC Television, Canadian Business Magazine, Maclean’s Magazine, The National Post, CBC Newsworld, numerous bloggers and everyone from fellow business people, PC Party insiders and even municipal leaders wanting to interview me or express thanks for having pointed to the Emporer’s state of undress.”

I know what Craig is talking about. I saw the traffic firsthand when I posted his speech on this blog. On the first day the speech appeared, hits rocketed from an average of 250 per day to more than 1,100, thanks to numerous links from other blogs (it’s amazing how quickly a hot story spreads on the web). On the second day, the hits peaked at more than 2,000 before tapering off slowly.

You can read the full text of the Craig Westcott speech here. And if you are interested in this subject, you should also check out the David Cochrane speech here.


Edward G. Hollett said...

Oddly enough, while the Premier's office dismisses Westcott, the premier had no trouble quoting from his newspaper extensively when he needed examples of positive economic things going on in the province.

WJM said...

Would that be an example of "the central Canadian news media dutifully report the reports of economists, bankers and “think tanks” who crow how the Newfoundland economy is hot and leading the country in growth" as recently railed against by Greg Locke?