A prolific and iconic individual in both the public and private sectors, Danny Williams has established himself as a business and community leader with decades of experience and an incredibly diverse and impressive portfolio. His early success in establishing the largest personal injury law firm in the province was followed by a very lucrative telecommunications career and other ventures in the fields of oil and gas, tourism, and sports. He then moved on to become the Province’s 9th Premier, serving for 8 years, during which time the province transformed to become one of the largest economic powerhouses in the country. Under his leadership, the economy experienced unprecedented growth and prosperity. Since then, Danny has stepped back from the public life and created DewCor to represent his various business interests. Today he continues to identify new opportunities in the private sector.
A Short Biography
Mr. Williams studied political science and economics at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Awarded the Rhodes Scholarship in 1969, he received a degree in Arts in Law from Oxford University in England, and returned to Canada to earn a Bachelor of Law degree from Dalhousie University. He practiced law in Newfoundland and Labrador beginning in 1972 and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1984. His legal career included successfully defending several high profile murder trials, victims of sexual abuse, and varied civil litigation.
Following studies at Dalhousie, Mr. Williams led a consortium of business people seeking Newfoundland and Labrador’s first cable television license. From 1975, he guided Cable Atlantic through acquisitions of systems in Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, Corner Brook, Port aux Basques and other centers, to become one of the largest telecommunications companies in Atlantic Canada. He later sold this company in a multi-hundred million-dollar agreement.
He has also been involved in Newfoundland and Labrador’s oil and gas industry as President of offshore oil and gas supply and services company OIS Fisher (later Spectrol), and in the hospitality and tourism industry through the operation of golf courses and a hotel resort.
Entering public life, Mr. Williams was elected as the Member for Humber West on August 2, 2001, and served as Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative Party Leader from 2001 to 2010. He went onto win the government on October 21, 2003 when he became the 9th Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador. On November 23, 2010, Mr. Williams announced his retirement from political life; at the time his government’s approval ratings were above 80 per cent. During almost his entire tenure as Premier, he enjoyed approval ratings well above 75 per cent.
Among his greatest accomplishments as Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador was his “no more give aways” approach to natural resource development. Negotiating groundbreaking agreements with the largest oil and gas companies in the world resulted in unprecedented royalty rates and local benefits for the people of the province. Additionally, these agreements gained the province equity stakes in the lucrative industry. As Premier, he also re-negotiated the Atlantic Accord with the Federal Government resulting in a 2 billion payment to the province. Under his leadership, the province started development of the Lower Churchill project, achieved “have” status for the first time in confederation, dramatically reduced debt levels, implemented aggressive and competitive personal and business tax regimes, and positioned Newfoundland and Labrador as a preferred tourism destination. As well, his government implemented a nation-leading Poverty Reduction Strategy and the most attractive Student Aid Programs in the country. He also oversaw the negotiation and settlement of centuries old land claims with Aboriginal peoples.
Since returning to the private sector, Mr. Williams has brought the American Hockey League (AHL) back to St. John’s as the franchise holder of the farm team for the NHL Winnipeg Jets. The St. John’s IceCaps sold out every single game during the first three and a half seasons, and continues to enjoy the highest attendance rates in the league. Through DewCor, he is also building one of the largest land developments in Atlantic Canada. With more than 2,400 acres of prime real estate in the south end of St. John’s, the Galway development will consist of residential, commercial, and industrial components. Other real estate developments include Westfield Condominiums in St. John’s. Other ventures include Glendenning Golf Course, The Willows Golf Course, IceCaps Entertainment and the Williams Family Foundation.
Mr. Williams has served as Chair of the Canadian Parliamentary Channel, Chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Film Development Corporation, Chair of the Provincial Government Offshore Oil Impact Advisory Council, and a member of charitable organizations such as the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, the Vera Perlin Society, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Iris Kirby House, and the Arthritis Society. Donating his entire political salary, he founded the Williams Family Foundation, which focuses mainly on assisting sick children in need.
Mr. Williams has been actively involved in hockey as a player and coach, was the founder and president of the St. John’s Junior Hockey League, was instrumental in bringing the St. John’s Maple Leafs AHL team to St. John’s, was a significant driver in building Mile One Stadium, served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and is a Member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Hall of Fame.
He has been named a Honourary Fellow of the Waterford Institute of Technology of Ireland and received a Honourary Doctorate from the University of PEI. Additionally, he is a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Business Hall of Fame; was presented with the Corporate Knights of Canada Award of Distinction; was named a Modern Maker of Canada by the Institute of Governance; has received an honourary designation from the Mi’Kmaq Nation; was presented with the Ches Loughlin Conservation Award; has received Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Lifetime Achievement Award and has been the recipient of many other business, sport and voluntary awards and distinction.
In the fall of 2014, the National Film Board of Canada premiered the documentary “Danny”, an 83-minute feature film that chronicled the life of Danny Williams.
Danny has four children and eight grandchildren.