McKenna gives but we don’t

Posted on June 6, 2011
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Former premier of New Brunswick and Canadian ambassador the U.S.,Frank McKenna and his wife Julie donated $1,000,000 to encourage and provide mentorship for entrepreneurs here. Frank referred to it as giving back to the community that provided him his first experiences in law, business and politics.

Obviously Frank has done well. He is currently the deputy chairman of the Toronto Dominion bank. A million-dollar donation is a very significant gift. Miramichi is very fortunate to have friends like Frank and Julie and Dr. Gerard and Judy Losier who were enthusiastic spectators at Frank’s announcement. I don’t know of anyone who has given more than the Losiers.

Miramichi and New Brunswick have not been very gracious in return. A local middle school is named after the Losier family in recognition of several generations of local medical care and good citizenship. That was done long before the recent millions in donations.

So far, neither Miramichi, nor New Brunswick, have done anything significant to recognize Frank McKenna’s contribution and leadership.

The premier who succeeded Frank, Miramichier Camille Theriault, did not really have time to do anything. He was promptly replaced by the Progressive Conservatives led by Bernard Lord. I didn’t really expect the PC’s to rush to memorialize Frank.

When Shawn Graham and his Liberals came to power, I did expect something and pestered him about it. I thought it would be fitting to name our local hospital after Frank. I was led to believe that then health minister Mike Murphy did not agree. At one point, Graham told me his cabinet had plans to honour Richard Hatfield, Bernard Lord and Frank all at once.

I thought that sounded like a classy move for a Liberal government but it never came to pass and now, of course, Graham is history.

I wonder if Premier David Alward and his Progressive Conservatives might find the time and inclination to do what Graham suggested he would.

Frank McKenna came to power at a very difficult time in world economic history. Canada, New Brunswick, and much of the world had years of deficit spending coming due. New Brunswick came through that relatively well because Frank faced up to it early and, with his finance minister, Allan Maher, moved decisively toward a better balance sheet. At the same time, he became New Brunswick’s best ever salesman. He enticed call centres and other businesses and encouraged private money to twin the highway from Fredericton to the Nova Scotia border.

At least as significant was his constant message that New Brunswickers could do anything we set our minds to, especially if French and English worked together as in the call centres.

It is now well past time both Miramichi and New Brunswick named something significant after Frank McKenna.

On we go.                                                      DAC

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