Tuesday, October 28, 2008

McKenna won't run

I got more and more indications that this was going to happen over the weekend so, as sad as it is, it is not really a surprise at this point. Especially when Leblanc announced his ambitions.

I would say we just missed out on someone who could have repaired the party and won the next election, but if his heart was not in it then the reality is that he would not have been as successful as we hoped.

I suspect he saw that the field was already getting crowded too: Leblanc has announced, Rae will announce later this week, Iggy will announce, David McGuinty's website is "down" right now and so is John Manley's website apparently.

Frank McKenna won't run for Liberal leadership
Updated Tue. Oct. 28 2008 5:20 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Frank McKenna, the popular former New Brunswick premier and U.S. ambassador, announced Monday that he will not run for the leadership of the federal Liberal Party of Canada.

"Although I have been deeply moved by expressions of support for me from across the country, I have not been persuaded to change my long-standing resolve to exit public life for good," the 60-year-old McKenna said in a news release.

" My only regret is that I cannot honour the expectations of friends and supporters who have shown enormous loyalty to me."

McKenna served as New Brunswick's premier for 10 years, coming to power in 1987, winning all 58 seats in the legislature.

McKenna has repeated many times he has no desire to re-enter politics, especially at the federal level.

He said in Monday's news release that the challenge of winning a leadership race, restoring the health of the party and returning a Liberal majority government requires a longer time commitment than he is prepared to make.

"There will be an ample number of well-qualified candidates to do this important work," he said.

Despite considerable urging from politicians to run, there were those in the party that feared his decade-long absence from politics would be a liability.

"We remember what happened to John Turner. He was away for a while, he came back, the expectations were very high and he didn't meet them," said Smith. "Some people thought that could happen to McKenna as well."

Turned resigned from politics in 1976 and was convinced to return after Pierre Trudeau retired almost a decade later. In 1984, Turner took a gamble, calling an early election and suffered an overwhelming defeat.

McKenna's struggle with the French language is also seen by some as a liability.

"Certainly after the language difficulties of Mr. Dion, I'm sure the Liberal Party will be looking for someone as fluently bilingual as possible," said Smith.

McKenna was appointed deputy chairman of T-D Bank Financial Group in May 2006. He has also served on the boards of many national companies and also as Canada's ambassador to the U.S. He resigned that position after Stephen Harper's Conservatives came to power in 2006.

Liberal MPs Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae were frontrunners in the 2006 Liberal leadership race that Dion eventually won. Both will likely play the same role this time around, although neither has officially declared they are running this time around.

New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc, the son of former governor general Romeo LeBlanc, indicated to the Globe and Mail on Monday that he would run, although he has not official announced his candidacy. Because LeBlanc is also from New Brunswick, many Liberals took this as a sign that McKenna would not be running.

A leadership convention would likely take place next May in Vancouver, where the party already has convention space booked for what was scheduled to be its biennial policy conference.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Other candidates worried about a McKenna bid

The other Liberal leadership candidates are clearly taking the possibility of a Frank McKenna leadership bid very seriously and it has them quite worried.

How else do explain the raft of attacks and criticisms over the weekend for a candidate who has not once spoken publicly about a Liberal leadership run since turning down the idea in 2006.

The Ottawa Citizen is concerned that the former New Brunswick Premier's wealth, his experience in business and industry, his success in growing businesses including his own businesses (both before politics and since) and his enormous list of contacts in the Canadian and international business and political world will be a negative for him. TD Bank, where he is Vice-Chair, is a Canadian bank punching way above its weight right now in the US with more branches in the US than even in Canada.

When did Canadians start preferring untested and unexperienced leaders to run? Harper had little to no experience in governing and certainly no successes. Last leadership round came down to a brilliant leader and public intellectual with a great vision for the country but let's face it no experience whatsoever in governing, a brilliant leader and one of the most natural born and gifted politicians ever but let's face it he'd be better off without the experience he actually had for another party and he's come from a major Bay Street law firm, and another brilliant leader and form cabinet minister who bridged a gap within the party but let's face it also had no governing experience and, well, we don't need to say any more about Dion.

Then there was David McGuinty trying to single out McKenna (and throwing in Ruby Dhalla for cover) and, as the Globe notes, "dissing" his bilingualism. Why don't we wait and see on that one shall we? Rather than cut a potential leadership candidate off at the knees before he even starts to run, let's hear his French. Certainly, it was good enough for the 40% of New Brunswickers who are Francophone. Quebecers started to embrace Stephen Harper even though he has barely passable French and had to confess he didn't even understand one of the French questions in one of the French language debates a while back, for a while at least until he showed how trully disconnected he is with Quebec culture.

No doubt McKenna's French will be a little rustier than some others for lack of use. But we haven't had a leader yet who works as hard as McKenna and will succeed in every challenge.

Add to this the push behind closed doors for a very very short and early leadership contest. Certainly, has some merits but clearly is at least partly designed to ensure a two-man race from the leading two candidates of 2006, the ones who recently announced a pact of some sort.

Unfortunately, we will see more of this effort to cut off all other pretenders to the crown. Try to cut off other leadership candidates at the knees before they even get going. In the very near future, you'll see Rae announce his leadership bid (later this week), the "supporter lists" start flying around (i.e. as Jim points out astutely here) to convince others they are already too far behind, and then a little later we will have leaks in the press about how much money Rae and Iggy have already raised (no one will wonder how they could have raised so much when the leadership race supposedly only just started or look at the dates of some of those cheques, but the point is only to emphasize that it will be a tough fight).

Frank is someone who can rise about all of that. He clearly has a lot of support from deep within the party and from across the country. He will not have any problem raising funds and would not need to borrow money like every other candidate in the last race (the two frontrunners borrowed very heavily, Rae the most).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

T&T: Will Frank McKenna run for federal Liberals?

We are gathering steam.
Will Frank McKenna run for federal Liberals?

Premier, Metro MP, commentators weigh in

By Jesse Robichaud
Times & Transcript Staff
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

FREDERICTON - A movement to draft former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna as a federal Liberal leadership candidate appears to be gaining steam just hours after Stéphane Dion announced his plans for the future.

Indeed, the push by many insiders to encourage the former ambassador to the United States, and native of Apohaqui, to seek the party's top job began well before Dion announced he will step down once federal Liberals select a new leader next May.

It is now playing out in media reports, on online blogs and social networking groups, and in political backrooms.

In addition, due to the TD Bank deputy chairman's his financial network and acumen, many have suggested that a push is also being felt from board rooms in office towers in many parts of the country.

Yesterday, Liberal Premier Shawn Graham said McKenna would be a strong candidate who understands New Brunswick, and the needs of his government.

"If he does make a decision to run he would have a strong possibility of winning, which would only mean great news for New Brunswick because we could form a partnership that would benefit all citizens here immensely."

Graham said McKenna, whose name has been linked to the federal party's leadership many times before, has the all the political tools needed to be successful.

"Former ambassador and premier Frank McKenna is an individual who not only brings name recognition across the country, but he also has a proven track record."

Graham was at an event to honour former Liberal Prime Minister John Turner on Monday night, where many potential candidates were present.

"There were a number of leadership contenders in the room last night but none of them approached me to ask for support because yesterday was a day to honour Stéphane Dion and John Turner."

Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe MP Brian Murphy says he has heard from many Liberals about "how wonderful it would be to have Frank McKenna in these times."

Murphy said McKenna would lend instant credibility to the party at a time when the economy is weighing heavily on the mind of voters.

"Many Liberals feel we lost the election on the impression that Mr. Harper would be a better steward of the economy," said Murphy.

"Of course I feel that is false on all grounds, but McKenna would bring a certain element to that." [...]

Murphy said candidates who can set up an organization on the ground very quickly will be at an advantage.

"If he had a strong ground game immediately, I think other candidates would be concerned," said Murphy.

"On the other hand if he is still wondering, and frankly many other candidates have a ground game, that might be a fact Mr. McKenna is currently weighing."

However, Murphy said McKenna's willingness to do battle with opponents can't be underestimated.

"I think every race is gong to be hard fought. Mr. McKenna is a fighter as well. He is an Irish guy, he is going to fight."

Université de Moncton political scientist Donald Savoie thinks McKenna's candidacy would be great for New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada.

He believes there is about a 50 per cent chance that McKenna will make the jump to federal politics.

"I think Frank would do every well. I think Frank is a great politician, there is a dynamic side to him, he has a sense of the country," said Savoie.

"I think Frank brings a dynamic perspective to Canadian politics. I think people relate to his sense of economic development, his sense of promoting the Canadian economy.

Savoie said McKenna's well-documented positions on the Meech Lake Accord would not hinder his ability to rebuild the party's fortunes in Quebec.

"I think it is a generation ago. I think a lot of water flowed under that bridge, and I think it has lost a lot of its resonance," said Savoie.

"There is a whole generation of voters who weren't affected by Meech Lake."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Globe: McKenna mulling leadership bid

According to the Globe and Mail today, the race for the new leader of the Liberal Party has already started to intensify as pressure builds on former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna to run for the leadership.

Although some close to Mr. McKenna were saying just a few days ago that his candidacy was unlikely, he is mulling it over more seriously as several senior Liberals have mounted a draft campaign, they said.

“Frank has just been bombarded with missives from people all across the country trying to persuade him to run, and he's in the throes of reflecting on all of that,” said former Ontario premier David Peterson, a long-time friend of Mr. McKenna.

Mr. McKenna's entry into the race would probably make a big splash, and make a contest that so far is shaping up with two front-runners – Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae – into a three-way fight.

But Mr. McKenna has repeatedly turned down efforts to draw him into federal politics, including a refusal to run for the Liberal leadership in 2006 in which he virtually ruled out a return to politics.

Mr. Peterson, who was Ontario co-chair of Mr. Ignatieff's last leadership campaign, is one of several senior Liberals pushing him to run this time.

Several others, who spoke on condition they not be named, said Mr. McKenna is showing an increased level of interest in running, asking hard questions about the feasibility of mounting a successful bid.

Mr. McKenna, 60, now vice-chairman of the TD Bank, also has to decide if he wants to make the personal and family sacrifices required for a high-profile leadership bid.

But there are no indications he has started to organize, and at least one MP who would expect an early stage call seeking his support said he has not been contacted.

“Yes, there are people around him and around me that have told me that he's increasingly interested,” said Moncton MP Brian Murphy, who supported Mr. Rae in the last race, but hasn't backed anyone for the coming contest.

If Mr. McKenna did enter the race, his support among key players in the business community would probably mean he could raise money more easily than most.
What does that mean? We need to ramp up efforts to encourage him to run. Please join the Facebook Group, send Frank a letter or email, encourage others to do so.

Miramichi Leader: Is time right for McKenna?

From the Miramichi Leader, just like a lot of small local publications across the country:

[...] And the call for a replacement has already been made and it is no surprise that Frank McKenna's name is on the list.

The former premier of New Brunswick and Ambassador to the United States has been courted to take the job before but he refused.

We wonder if he will take on the challenge now. Is the time right?

Many feel McKenna has the right stuff to bring to the job. He's charismatic, he has proven leadership qualities and he's a very popular guy. He is not only a star on the national stage but on the international one as well. [...]

It would be nice to see a NB person in the role as leader whether it be McKenna or LeBlanc.

It's not to say that Dion did not have good ideas to help the country but it was his delivery of the ideas that seemed to be his downfall. He just couldn't get the message out to the people.

We say the Liberals need to get back on track. We need a strong Opposition party in the House of Commons. Someone has to be there to challenge the government on issues.

It is now time for rebuilding. We say bring on a leadership convention and get the federal Liberal party back on track now.

Telegraph: Come Back Frank

They certainly seem to love him back home:

Come back, Frank

Published Monday October 20th, 2008

The campaign to draft Frank McKenna as federal Liberal leader began even before Tuesday's votes were counted.

New Brunswickers have heard these rumours before. This time, we expect the former premier to respond in earnest - no demure smile, no coy denials.

The political fire that burns in Frank McKenna's belly has never been extinguished - and Parliament needs it.

The consolidation of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives into one party has brought new vigour to national politics. Federal Liberals must bring the same calibre of leadership to the political centre.

Liberals need a leader who is universally respected, politically adept, above the factionalism that has undermined the party, and able to unite the country.

Frank McKenna is that candidate - and he should end his political retirement, for the sake of the nation.

Canadians are looking for a voice from the centre-left as persuasive as the voice from centre-right, so that this country can once again engage in productive political debate. These are challenging times, and Canadians want leaders who can rise to the challenge, confident of achieving Canada's potential for prosperity.

The House of Commons needs to ring with a clash of ideas that will raise public policy to a higher level. Frank McKenna can provide it.

Mr. McKenna's politics straddle the centre, appealing to small-'c' conservatives and small-'l' liberals. His experience bridges Canada's regions and its political heartland, the worlds of business and politics, and the concerns of rural Canadians with those of cities. He is the unity candidate - fluently bilingual, and admired as thoroughly in Quebec as he is in Fredericton, Calgary or on Toronto's Bay Street.

He has ample foreign policy experience, from his efforts to raise New Brunswick's stature to his years as Canada's U.S. ambassador. He has worked alongside Hollywood celebrities, attended the prestigious Bilderberg conference for international leaders, and is helping former U.S. President Bill Clinton with a Canadian tour. He is respected internationally in a way few Canadian leaders have been.

There's a reason for that.

As New Brunswick's newspaper of record, we've covered Frank McKenna's rise from lawyer to statesman. We watched him sweep every seat in the province, and marvelled at what he was able to accomplish.

Frank McKenna didn't just appeal to people, he inspired them - instilling a tremendous sense of pride and belief in this province's ability to punch above its weight. What New Brunswick didn't have, he proved New Brunswickers could make up for with leadership and chutzpah. Under his visionary direction, New Brunswick became a global contender and the envy of other provinces.

Canada is well positioned to succeed despite these difficult times. It has a secure financial system and an enormous capacity for intelligence and innovation. If Frank McKenna were given the chance to inspire Canadians as he has inspired New Brunswickers, who knows what this nation could achieve?

Mr. McKenna tends to act coy when new political opportunities arise, employing a banker's professional reserve. We're surely not alone when we say, we'd like to see him hang up the banker's suspenders and put on the mantle of leadership.

Come back, Frank! Don't play footsie this time. Get into the leadership race. Please?

You know you'd be good at it - and you know this country needs a renewed sense of what Canadians can accomplish.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

CBC: N.B. Grits pushing McKenna to replace Dion

Trust me, it's not just New Brunswickers.

N.B. Grits pushing McKenna to replace Dion

Last Updated: Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New Brunswick Liberals are already trying to draft former premier Frank McKenna to seek the federal Liberal leadership now that Stéphane Dion has announced he will step down.

Ever since the Liberals posted the party's near historic low in popular support in last Tuesday's election, pressure has mounted on Dion to resign as leader. McKenna's name is swirling as a possible leadership candidate for the convention expected next May.

Business New Brunswick Minister Greg Byrne was with McKenna at a conference just two weeks ago and says even then, the former premier was being approached by many people who encouraged him to run.

Byrne said McKenna's strengths are clear to everyone if he chose to run for the leadership.

"He's very dynamic, very charismatic, he understands the issues facing the country, and I'm sure he's getting numerous phone calls," Byrne said.

McKenna is the deputy chairman of TD Bank Financial Group and keeps an active agenda that has recently included delivering humanitarian aid with actor Matt Damon to storm-ravaged Haitians. Next month, he will host an event in Moncton with former U.S. president Bill Clinton on the global economy. [...]

But Fundy-Royal Conservative MP Rob Moore, whose riding includes McKenna's hometown of Apohaqui, disagrees with the assessment that the former premier is a conservative.

"I don't know who's ever made that assertion but McKenna was anything but conservative in New Brunswick," Moore said.

Moore says McKenna centralized decision-making on education, health and municipal mergers — and that means he's no conservative. And he says he's ready to tell the country that if McKenna becomes Liberal leader.

McKenna isn't the only New Brunswicker being touted as a potential successor to Dion. Beauséjour MP Dominic LeBlanc's name has been bandied about in recent weeks and he has said he will be active in rebuilding the party.

Other potential leadership aspirants include Bob Rae, Michael Ignatieff and Gerard Kennedy, who all represent Toronto ridings.

Ottawa Sun: McKenna's move?

McKenna's move?

Would you give up all this for a shot at 24 Sussex Dr.?

October 21, 2008

Now that Stephane Dion has mercifully agreed to get lost, prominent Liberals and influential Canadians of all stripe are burning up the phone lines to Frank McKenna, practically begging the former New Brunswick premier to jump into the Liberal leadership race.

"He is being utterly flooded with calls from all over the place," says one of McKenna's closest confidants.

But is he even thinking about running?

"He is certainly not oblivious to all the people who are calling on him -- I would put his odds (of running) at 49-51."

If that's true, Dion's demise could soon lead to a dramatic change in the political landscape unimagined even a week ago.

Realistically, if McKenna decided to run, odds are the Liberal leadership race would quickly become a coronation.

And if he won the Liberal leadership, he would be a formidable foe against Stephen Harper in the next election.

Intelligent, affable, accomplished, energetic and politically savvy, the former premier who once won every seat in his province has long been a perennial favourite of the chattering class to take over the reins of the Liberal party.

Critics say his command of French is short of fluency, but somehow he managed to rule a province that is 40% francophone and get re-elected in landslides.

Now 60, his political credentials for high office just seem to be getting better with age.

Last month, McKenna showed up with Hollywood star Matt Damon, delivering emergency supplies to a devastated village in hurricane-ravaged Haiti.

Now the vice-chairman of the giant TD Bank Financial, McKenna lives in the world of executive limos and Learjets, his counsel sought by world leaders and the giants of international business.

Yet, there he was a couple of weeks after slogging through muddy hell in Haiti, taking the darn subway to work on Bay Street (snapped on camera by a surprised Sun Media columnist Joe Warmington).

Later this month, McKenna is scheduled to co-host a conference with former U.S. president Bill Clinton.

And whoever moves into the White House after next month's presidential election, you can be sure an early invitation will go out to Canada's former ambassador to Washington, Frank McKenna.

What is driving McKenna to even consider running for the Liberal leadership is far more of a mystery than what's holding him back.

One of his friends says: "He cares passionately about the country, and he certainly knows the (political) business, including the tough side of it.

A friend says McKenna is being tugged between those who are saying the country needs him, and his experience in the grind of politics saying: Who needs it?

"Fact is, he is enjoying being a serious granddad, and he has a pretty nice life right now."

McKenna went through the same soul-searching not three years ago when he had to call a full-blown press conference to quell rumours he was considering running for the Grit crown after Paul Martin quit.

"Contrary to the belief of some, being prime minister of Canada has not been a burning ambition for me," he said at the time.

A friend said this week: "This is very much a personal decision about the last job of his life."

A lot of Liberals have their fingers crossed that job will be the leadership of their party.

I'll say! The Facebook Group keeps growing quickly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

It's official: Dion bows out

Dion steps aside.

It is not only the smart thing to do but the only thing to do at this point.

I think it is a good thing, though, that he stays on as interim leader rather than Rae's man or Iggy's man run the show until May. As long as he doesn't continue to favour Bob Rae, I think it is better to have him stay on. You can almost see the possibly of a 1980-style election: "vote for the Liberal Party and I promise I will step down because I know you don't like me", only to bring the Green Shift back from the dead. It could happen. We always did think that Dion could have been another Pearson: an incomperably poor and weak leader, but one who held the balance of power within the party, and with enough respect and vision that great things could have been accomplished.

But that was never going to be.

Kinsella thinks that, in a recession or near-recession, what the Liberals need is "someone who can, one, balance the books and talk credibly about the economy; two, inspire people, raise funds, and show a life-long commitment to Liberal values; and, three, have the look and sound of a winner."

We couldn't agree more.

Now let the campaigning begin.

Don't forget to sign up at the Frank McKenna for Prime Minister Facebook Page.

The Honourable Stéphane Dion

We like Stéphane Dion as a person and as a crusader for both the environment and for the unity of Canada. We have many times defended him by calling him Captain Canada fighting against Mr. Firewall Harper, or as Mr. Integrity vs Deceivin' Stephen. The Liberal Party chose him in 2006 and he has had my unquestioned loyalty since then.

But that doesn't mean we have been blind to certain problems with his leadership, deep problems.

Some of those problems are not his but endemic within the party itself, but others are his.

At the little website, we support and call for Frank McKenna for Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister of Canada, not because of the inadequacies and failings of Stéphane Dion, but because of the capabilities and successes of Frank McKenna.

Still, Stéphane Dion is the leader and before we can advocate for another, the onus is fully on those who would oust him to justify the potentially divisive and damaging move to remove him, and to justify it on grounds showing that a change would make a difference.

Stéphane Dion is not the man that we have allowed the Conservatives and NDP coalition to paint him as. Still, every myth has some element of truth to it. Stéphane Dion was a successful and hardworking cabinet minister with two difficult portfolios under two different and strongly opposing Liberal leaders. Unlike any of the other serious candidates last leadership race, he sat at the cabinet table, and did so with both Chrétien and with Martin. And yet, as I recall, not a single one of those cabinet ministers endorsed him in the lead-up to the convention. Dion also had a great deal of difficulty raising funds: only Bob Rae had a higher debt-to-funds raised ratio, if memory serves. His communication skills - not just a language issue, but his ability to communicate to voters and potential supporters - was always noted as an issue. There was a real reason that the Conservatives chose "leadership" as their attack point in trying to define Dion.

Leadership is not simply to have the grand vision or and to get people to do what you want. These are two pillars of leadership. Dion had one and Harper has the other. The third critical element to leadership, though, is judgement. A subset of good judgement in this arena is sound political judgement. Dion has demonstrated time and again a lack of good judgement and an acute lack of good political judgement.

From so many stories I have heard from Dion supporters and from others, he had a tin ear for politics, but he also made countless bad judgement calls on a daily basis. I think that is why the knives have come out so early after the election for him. It is not just a devastating, historic, record electoral loss, but those who work with him - or, rather, those who have tried to work with him - saw this coming a long long time ago.

What did we need in a new Liberal leader in 2006?
  • Primarily, someone who would not further divide the party after the self-inflicted wounds of Turner-Chrétien-Martin fights. We think Dion gets a B/B+ for his efforts in that regard.
  • Someone who could rebuild the internal infrastructure of the party. Dion gets an F here.
  • Someone who could re-invent the fundraising strategies of the party and right the listing fiscal ship. Is there something lower than F?
  • Someone who could re-connect with the voters through personality, policy and vision. I actually am less negative on this front than many, but can really only give him a D+/C-.

Just this summer we learned about the Green Shift and whatever you think about it as a policy, it is exactly the kind of thing we needed on policy and vision. But that could never be enough and there was such a crappy communications stategy around it and around all other policies that one wonders if there was any strategy behind their communications. To come out with the Green Shift as the chief electoral plank was risky enough but not have a clear and simple and consistent way to communicate and explain, necessarily meant that Harper would explain it for us. But what else was there? Every now and then over the last two years, the Liberals would seem to come out with some other plank - something here on poverty, something here on competitiveness - that showed some promise only to see it disappear from any talking points the very next week.

The communications problems were more than just communications problems. They were evidence of poor guidance and judgement from the leader. And there are countless examples of poor judgement. The timing and communication strategy around the Green Shift is arguably one of the biggest. The endorsing another candidate and party, the Green Party, and skipping out on campaiging in a riding to do so, after a convention when we all literally talked about and wanted a 308 riding strategy and fight. One week they'd be pummelling Harper over detainees and seeing the polls shift, the very next week they stop those gains cold by calling a Parliamentary hearing into what Shane Doan did or did not say on the ice after a skirmish... a couple of years ago.

Some will and certainly are claiming that all of Dion's problems are because he was constantly being undermined by Rae and Ignatieff. From my vantage point, this was more than half Dion's own fault. All the leadership candidates had debt from the race, but despite several attempts by most of the candidates, Dion refused to do anything collective about the debt. The debt was a party problem: it meant former candidates had to fend for themselves and raise funds or else face personal debt, instead of raising funds for the party. It also meant that the candidates had to keep their campaign teams together to organize. So that was an early very bad judgement call.

He compounded this by not reaching out. The inner circle around Dion was almost exclusively Dion campaign supporters. But they did not have the necessary experience to run the OLO or to give Dion good advice. Worse, they created a siege mentality where every comment, constructive criticism, individual act not approved by them was turned into a leadership challenge. A real leader and a real leadership team does not feel so insecure. So Bob Rae goes out and organizes a big fundraiser because the party isn't going to help him and he gets accused of trying to outshine and undermine the leader. Iggy and Kennedy the same.

We know of one specific example of an Ignatieff supporter in the communications team who provided draft Question Period questions to Dion's staff; they rejected them and told him to give the questions to the Deputy Leader. Surprise surprise, who is quoted on the news that night, but the well formed and understood Deputy Leader's question. Next day, Dion has a meeting and is screaming about "Why does Ignatieff get all the good questions? Why is no one writing good questions for me?" So what happens then? Our good friend gets blamed for trying to undermine Dion by giving good questions to Ignatieff and bad questions to Dion. There are countless examples just like this.

This is why the knives are out so quickly. Dion lost the support of caucus; they did not simply start trying to undermine him.

And why the rush? These problems are not the kind that can simply be fixed by better communications and media and language training, of the kind Dion finally started taking last year after a lot of pressure from caucus and resistance by him and his team. So we know the problems will not get fixed, but will continue to get worse.

The Liberals lost almost a million votes in this election. There is a financial cost to that at a time when the party is unable to compete with the Conservatives for funds. There is a potentially huge political cost too. If we continue to languish as a viable and strong opposition, then voters will find someone who will be that viable and strong opposition.

We have the greatest of respects for Stéphane Dion. He is a great Canadian and a great and loyal Liberal. But, like Joe Clark almost three decades ago, the Peter Principle unfortunately applies. I would love to see him stick around, as interim leader, and then beyond as the next Minister of the Environment or in some other portfolio. When given direction by a superior - Chrétien with unity, Martin with the environment - he not only succeeds, Dion thrives.

But timing is an issue. We have a convention lined up in May. Do we want to spend the millions of dollars to have a leadership review only to then have a leadership convention later the same year? Or do we want to get on with rebuilding the party and use that time to chose the next Prime Minister?

From across the country: We want McKenna

From across the country, more and more voices are asking Frank McKenna to run for the federal Liberal Party and become Canada's next Prime Minister.

From the West:

Time for Grits to draft McKenna
Edmonton Sun
Sat, October 18, 2008

[...] But Liberals shouldn't kid themselves. There is no quick and easy solution to their woes. Of the names being bandied about, several are problematic. A couple are ludicrous. [...]

Frank McKenna: McKenna is decent as the day is long, a straight talker, fluently bilingual, and possessed of one of the best political and business records this country has ever seen. This is the guy with the best chance of bringing it home for [the Liberals], should he choose to run.

To the East:

Support for McKenna swells

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A senior Liberal said Friday that an increasing number of high-ranking party members are ready to throw their weight behind Frank McKenna if the former New Brunswick premier makes a run at the leadership.

"Frank's candidacy would be a game-changer,'' the senior MP said, asking to remain anonymous. "It would change the landscape immediately. There is nobody else who has the capacity to win the leadership race, raise the money that we need and turn the party around

"This guy can beat Stephen Harper. There is no doubt."

Especially in the East, where they know him best.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Dion to speak on Monday

Looks like it all starts sooner than we might have expected.
Meet The Press

For Immediate Release
October 17, 2008

Liberal Leader Stéphane Dion to hold a press conference in Ottawa

Date: Monday, October 20, 2008
Time: 2:00 PM
Location: National Press Theatre, 150 Wellington, Ottawa, Ontario

Globe: Key Liberals send out feelers for Dion's job

This is no surprise.

If there are any Frank McKenna supporters out there, let me know in the comments or by email at Frank4PM@yahoo.ca or by joining up on our Facebook Page.

If there are any Frank McKenna organizers out there, of which I am not as yet one (other than this site), I've already received many many emails from interested and enthusiastic supporters. My hope is that Frank is made aware of this early groundswell of support.
Key Liberals send out feelers for Dion's job


With a report from Jane Taber in Ottawa

October 17, 2008

Envoys for at least half a dozen prominent Liberals have begun making exploratory forays for cash and support for leadership bids as Stéphane Dion's tenure as headof the federal party slips closer to history's dustbin.

Mr. Dion had not made up his mind yesterday whether to step down or continue as leader. However, there were persistent reports he was moving toward resignation but that details - including what continued role he would play in the parliamentary caucus - still had to be worked out.

Meanwhile, people close to MPs Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Gerard Kennedy and Dominic LeBlanc, former deputy prime minister John Manley and former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna were contacting influential party members to test the waters.

An associate of Mr. Manley sent an e-mail to 40 people suggesting "coyly," as one of the recipients put it, that Mr. Manley might be interested in the party leadership. Similar but even more low-key overtures were being made by associates of Mr. McKenna, although they emphasized that he was far removed from putting out feelers.

What representatives of would-be candidates made clear in conversations was their strong wish to avoid the optics of any indecent clamouring for Mr. Dion's job while he still occupies it.
[Read more.]

Already, we get noticed!

Not bad.

We've been up and running for two days now and already we've gotten some attention from some fairly high profile sources.

Warren Kinsella thinks we're crazy and should probably cool our heals for a bit out of respect for Stéphane Dion. We agree, almost, and it is the almost part that drove us to get up and running as quickly as possible to try to encourge Frank to run. We'll explain more later. Feel free to vote for Warren in the poll on the sidebar; he is now well ahead of everyone.

We've been noticed by NetNewsLedger.com and by Stephen Taylor as well.

For those interested, leave us a comment or send us an email at Frank4PM@yahoo.ca. For those casting about to gauge the interest, I have already had dozens of emails expressing a passion, a real drive to see Frank McKenna as leader. I'm a nobody, but I do want to hook these folks up to the right person if there is a right person out there.

Herald: Could McKenna be the Liberal leader?

Not surprisingly, given his experience and successes, Frank McKenna is being touted as the frontrunner even before the current leader steps down.

We'll have more to say about the Honourable Stéphane Dion, a good Liberal in trying times for the Liberal Party, in a bit. For now, we are wondering, hoping even, that...
Could McKenna be the Liberal leader?

By STEPHEN MAHER Election Aftermath

ON THURSDAY, a broken party turned its lonely eyes to the boardroom of the Toronto-Dominion Bank, where Frank McKenna sat and . . . well, who knows what he was doing?

He is not, apparently, taking calls from reporters. Has he called old allies to see if they will line up with him again? Well, it’s known that his old allies are working the phones.

Both La Presse and the National Post ran stories Thursday speculating that Mr. McKenna could be the Liberal party’s next leader, and his name is on the lips of every Liberal MP — both the survivors and those who fell in Tuesday’s bloodbath — as they call each other to commiserate.

It would be indelicate for them to give on-the-record interviews calling for Mr. McKenna to enter the race before Liberals have had a chance to stick their knives into Stephane Dion.

Mr. Dion, who must feel like he is walking around with a butcher’s chart pinned to his back, has steered the Liberals into the ditch. They got 26 per cent of the popular vote Tuesday — 26 per cent! That’s two points lower even than John Turner managed when Brian Mulroney stomped him in 1984.

While Stephen Harper did not manage to win a majority for the Tories, the Liberal party is broke, demoralized and humiliated. And the MPs, who just a few years ago were confident of huge majorities under Paul Martin, are looking for someone to haul them out of the ditch.

Mr. McKenna, one of the world’s natural winners, could be that guy. In 1987, with him as leader, New Brunswick Liberals won every seat in the legislature. There’s a delicious thought for disconsolate Liberals to ponder.

As premier, Mr. McKenna was famous for hopping on planes to pitch his province to businesses in Canada and around the world. And he was the kind of politician — like, say, Rene Levesque or Father Andy Hogan — who was good at explaining policy decisions to the public.

After 10 years as premier, he left in 1997 on his own terms and set out to make money, something he has been good at. He worked briefly as Canadian ambassador to the United States for Mr. Martin and hobnobbed with the Bushes and Clintons and Tony Blair and other big shots.

He also did charity work, organized speeches for Bill Clinton and top-level get-togethers for international movers and shakers, and in 2006 started working as deputy chairman of the TD Bank Financial Group.

When the job of Liberal party leader became open that same year, he opted out because his wife didn’t want him to run and because people he trusted warned him away from the job.

Things seem to be different now.

"I don’t think the people who are putting his name out there are doing it without some indication that he wants it out there," one Liberal said Thursday.

The problem is, if he wants the job, he must act now, before Mr. Dion has even been properly knifed, because Bob Rae’s and Michael Ignatieff’s people have never stopped organizing.

Those two men — former college roommates, close friends and, apparently, bitter rivals — are locked in a struggle for the party’s leadership that was only interrupted by the Dion interregnum. Other Liberals, fearing a continuation of the toxic Martin-Chretien feud under new banners, would like Mr. McKenna to come in and rebuild the party. They can’t sit around and wait while Mr. Rae and Mr. Ignatieff sign up all the organizers and MPs.

If Mr. McKenna jumps in, former Ontario premier David Peterson has said, "a massive organization would organize itself."

Even so, his victory would not be guaranteed.

Like any politician with a track record, Mr. McKenna has baggage. His French is said to be awful. Some in Quebec still remember his awkward intervention in Meech Lake. His anti-abortion position as premier would not be acceptable to the party now. He has no useful experience dealing with the ethnic brokerage politics that is such a crucial part of Liberal leadership races now. And some of his business connections would make him easy to attack from the left.

Politics has changed in the past 10 years, so he would be rusty. And it’s not clear that his wife is any keener on him re-entering politics now.

On the other hand, Mr. McKenna has been so good at so many things in his life, and possesses such a powerful personal dynamism, that many people think he could triumph.

Then there are his economic credentials.

"If the economy is the question, Frank McKenna is the answer," another Liberal said Thursday.

On Nov. 25, Mr. Clinton will join Mr. McKenna in the Moncton Coliseum for a talk on the world economy. When Mr. McKenna set that up, midway through this election campaign, he would have been able to guess that Mr. Dion was in the middle of losing the election.

It may have been conceived as the perfect occasion to launch a leadership campaign. But it looks like Mr. Dion is going to be knifed more quickly than expected.

So if Mr. McKenna wants in, he may not be able to wait that long.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Star: Who's running for the Liberal leadership?

In anticipation of Dion's resignation in the next day or so, The Toronto Star puts up it's the first full list of possible leadership candidates.

Who does it put up first and foremost? You betcha. No surprise there. I'd say his plusses are way bigger than Diebel says, and the cons she lists are pretty small.

Who's running for the Liberal leadership?

TheStar.com - Federal Election - Who's running for the Liberal leadership?

Some Liberals are already privately lining up behind favourite choices to replace Stephane Dion. Some ran against him in 2006; others would be new

October 16, 2008
Linda Diebel
Staff reporter


Former Liberal premier of New Brunswick and ambassador to U.S., courted in past to run, TD Bank executive, lawyer, 60

Pros: Politically savvy, plugged into financial and cultural elites, good U.S. connections, unflappable.

Cons: Has insisted he's not interested in leadership. Top political campaign teams are already claimed by 2006 candidates planning to run again.


MP for Parkdale-High Park, ex-food bank director, education minister in Premier Dalton McGuinty's government, 2006 leadership candidate, 48

Pros: High marks for grassroots social involvement, good record in education portfolio, not too young, not too old, and has both eastern and Western roots.

Cons: Role as "kingmaker" for Stéphane Dion in 2006, French not great in 2006 but says he has been studying.


MP for Brampton-Springdale, first South Asian woman to be elected to national government, chiropractor, actress, 34

Pros: Considered good performer, valuable organizer with the Michael Ignatieff leadership team in 2006, need for more women.

Cons: Youth, inexperience, likely would be running for next time.


MP for Bourassa, former immigration minister under Jean Chrétien, life insurance broker and radio announcer, 45

Pros: Passionate about issues, educated himself on Afghanistan, showed tenacity in running three times before being elected MP.

Cons: Under Liberal policy of alternating francophone and anglophone leaders, he should be ineligible.


MP for Mississauga-Brampton South, heavily involved in Dion's leadership campaign, financial analyst, 31

Pros: Well-respected in Liberal caucus, organized, effective and regarded as "go-to" person for the Opposition leader's office.

Cons: Young, but like Dhalla a candidate who might be running for next time.



Newly elected MP for Papineau, son of the late prime minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau and Margaret Sinclair, teacher, 36

Pros: Fast learner, showed grit in Papineau race, Trudeau royal jelly.

Cons: Liberals close to Trudeau insist he will not run, no wish to blow future with a loss now.


MP for Toronto Centre, former NDP premier of Ontario and once an NDP MP, left that party in 2002, Rhodes Scholar, lawyer, 60

Pros: Strong debater/speaker, savvy political instincts, would have master strategist – brother John Rae from Power Corp.

Cons: Bad memories of "Rae Days" in Ontario, rivalry with Michael Ignatieff lingers.


Willowdale MP, 2006 leadership contender, entrepreneur and telecommunications executive, lawyer, 49

Pros: Respected for staying in the race in 2006, loyally gave up Newmarket-Aurora nomination to Belinda Stronach.

Cons: No record of women effectively collecting dues in Canadian politics, top strategists may be committed elsewhere.


Etobicoke-Lakeshore MP who lived abroad for decades, came second in 2006 leadership, author, journalist, commentator and head of Harvard-based human rights centre, 61

Pros: Smart, sophisticated, political neophyte turned powerful stump speaker.

Cons: Supported U.S.-led war with Iraq in 2003 and was criticized for lending intellectual, human rights "cred" to the war, rivalry with Rae.


Held foreign affairs, finance and deputy PM job under Jean Chrétien, chair of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's blue-ribbon panel on Afghanistan, lawyer, 58

Pros: Solid, straight-shooter, strong in foreign affairs portfolio.

Cons: Criticism he was manipulated by Harper in heading Afghanistan task force, not a passionate speaker.


York Centre MP, former star goalie for Montreal Canadiens, leadership candidate in 2006, lawyer, 61

Pros: Best-known person in any political line-up, advocate for social justice, does charity work.

Cons: Not one of top contenders in 2006, well-liked on campaign trail but speaking style can be flat.



Kings-Hants MP, former cabinet minister under Paul Martin, leadership candidate in 2006, Progressive Conservative who left after merger with Canadian Alliance, investment banker, 41

Pros: Hard-working and loyal to leader, funny and, if McKenna declines, could be only Maritimer in race; ability to simplify financial issues for public.

Cons: Not a strong leadership contender in 2006, soft-spoken and not memorable as speaker.

Facebook: Frank McKenna for Prime Minister

Yup. We gotta Facebook Group page now too.

Come join and spread the word.

Maclean's: Frank McKenna Pegged as Next Liberal Leader.

An oldie but a goodie:
Frank McKenna Pegged as Next Liberal Leader.

Maclean's August 29, 2005

ASK A PROMINENT Liberal about who might be the party's next leader and the first response is a deep, exasperated sigh, combined with much eye-rolling and head-shaking. After the long years of the Chrétien-Martin wars, can't we leave it alone? And, anyway, given Stephen HARPER's southbound polling numbers, isn't it the identity of the next Tory leader that should be the subject of speculation? But with those complaints out of the way - and with a firm understanding that this is all off the record, right? - leadership handicapping is a sport that's never out of season. Liberal MPs might not dare talk much about it during the workday when their caucus meets for a summer session in Regina this week, but it's bound to come up after hours. What's intriguing is that the same insiders who say there is no subterranean leadership race also agree there is a frontrunner - Frank MCKENNA, Canada's ambassador to the United States.

Yet McKenna has not attracted the most leadership attention in the media recently. Pundits and players have been hyperventilating over more novel potential candidates. First came a wave of chatter about the prospect of Michael Ignatieff, the media-star Harvard University professor, coming home to win over the party as a Pierre Trudeau-like philosopher king. Next, attention shifted to the arguably even stranger scenario of Bob RAE, the former NDP premier of Ontario, switching partisan stripes for a return to politics and a bid to become the next federal Liberal to take up residency at 24 Sussex Drive. But while Ignatieff and Rae each have their share of Grit fans, neither can match McKenna's mainstream credibility. "I'd be very surprised if he didn't have the edge," said one Martin loyalist who views McKenna as the man to beat.

McKenna represents a package that makes some political strategists go weak at the knees. Still boyish at 57, he is a decade younger than Paul MARTIN. As New Brunswick's pro-business premier from 1987 to 1997, he established a far higher national profile than most leaders of small provinces. His extensive network includes the likes of Liberal Party of Canada national director Steve MacKinnon, who was McKenna's executive assistant from 1988 to 1996. He has many well-placed boosters among Liberal MPs and senators. "I'm a Frank McKenna Liberal," declares New Brunswick MP Andy Savoy, the Liberal caucus chair. "I think he'd make a great, great prime minister." But Savoy, who acts as the main liaison between the current Prime Minister and his MPs, hastens to add, "I don't think Frank's actively pursuing it."

Of course not. For a serving ambassador to be caught engaging in anything that smacks of leadership jockeying would be a damaging embarrassment. McKenna is far too experienced a political operator to risk it. The beauty of his current post is the way it has allowed him to burnish his image while merely doing his job. Rarely has a Canadian diplomat commanded so much positive media attention. McKenna has been front-and-centre in taking on any American who suggests that Canada is soft on terror, firing back at everyone from New York Times editorial writers to CNN personalities. Each salvo gets another round of glowing press in Canada. He has also carried much of the load for Ottawa on contentious files, from mad cow disease to softwood lumber. It's a no-lose role; even if McKenna doesn't succeed, he'll score with the home crowd as a tenacious Canadian battling the Big Bad Americans.

In fact, McKenna is hardly a rank outsider in Washington. Before being appointed ambassador, he was on the Canadian advisory board of the Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C.-based investment firm with links to former U.S. president George H.W. Bush. When those ties became an issue after he was named Canada's representative in Washington early this year, McKenna downplayed them. "I have a relationship with a few members of the Bush family," he said. "But it is not a very tight, strong relationship." Still, any connection to the Bush clan is a calling card in today's Republican-dominated Washington. Add to that McKenna's track record, back in the late eighties, as a strong proponent of the Canada-U.S. free trade deal, and his business-friendly, budget-balancing policies as New Brunswick premier, and some left-of-centre Liberals might begin to get leery. "Clearly, he's on the right wing of the party," says York University political science professor Robert MacDermid.

But it is McKenna's personal appeal, not his ideological stance, that has many Liberals ranking him above potential leadership rivals. Rae is respected by the party's elite, who know him well; Martin trusts him enough to have appointed him to advise the government on whether or not there should be an inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombing. But while McKenna's reputation from provincial politics is strong, Rae's is dubious. After winning the 1990 Ontario election, his popularity plummeted during tough economic times, and his NDP government was swept from power in 1995 by Mike Harris's Tories. And this summer's speculative stir about Rae turning federal Grit didn't translate into rank-and-file enthusiasm. "Bob has no resonance among Liberal barbecue-goers," said one party strategist.

Ignatieff comes with no political baggage - but also no experience. At 58, the Harvard human rights professor is Canada's most famous expatriate public intellectual, both as an author and a broadcaster. He delivered a widely noted speech to a Liberal policy convention in March, sparking speculation that he is pondering a return to Toronto, after spending most of his adult life in Britain and the U.S., to try to become an MP and then succeed Martin. Friends say he is spending this summer mulling his options in France. But the prevailing view is that, after decades abroad, he would face a steep uphill climb.

Some of those hankering for a thoughtful Liberal to back have mused about Social Development Minister Ken DRYDEN making a bid. He's a household name as a former hockey player, and respected by Martin's crew - but not exactly a scintillating public performer. "Character and comportment," said one veteran Liberal operative, making the case for Dryden, "are sometimes more important than dynamism."

A nice thought, but not entirely convincing. Overall, the arguments for Ignatieff, Rae and Dryden, along with other long shots, take a little too much imagination. But some of the more obvious hopefuls, notably Chrétien-era cabinet heavyweight John Manley, have been attracting scant notice lately. Only McKenna, at this early point, combines straightforward political experience with current buzz. Whether that can be sustained is another question. Martin promises an election early in 2006. If he loses, the race to replace him will begin immediately. If he wins, his U.S. ambassador will be able to spend a few more years in Washington, before coming home to start organizing for real. For now, in the race that nobody's running, McKenna looks comfortably ahead.

Maclean's August 29, 2005


The Canadian Encyclopedia © 2008 Historica Foundation of Canada

Post: McKenna eyeing Liberal leadership: source

Awesome! This site goes up yesterday and already we've started to get him thinking about it.

McKenna eyeing Liberal leadership: source

Former premier said to be mulling leadership bid if Dion resigns

John Ivison, National Post
Published: Thursday, October 16, 2008

OTTAWA -- Frank McKenna, the former premier of New Brunswick, is said to be seriously considering a bid for the Liberal leadership should Stephane Dion step down.

"Frank still has the bug and is open to lobbying from some of Canada's most senior businessmen that the party needs him and the country needs him," said a Liberal source who is understood to have been in contact with the former Canadian ambassador to Washington.

Mr. McKenna's name is frequently mentioned as a potential leadership candidate, but he decided not to run in the 2006 contest because of health issues facing his wife, Julie. Those issues are said to have been resolved.

The poor performance by the Liberals in this week's election, coupled with the prospect of a divisive fight for a vacant leadership between Bob Rae and Michael Ignatieff, has prompted a group of senior party figures to approach Mr. McKenna, 60, now deputy chairman of Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Asked what it would take to draw Mr. McKenna into the race, the source said: "He has to be persuaded that there is a sufficient level of interest in his candidacy. There is, and I have reason to believe he's interested."

Bank officials said Mr. Mc-Kenna is focused on his job at TD and has nothing to say on the matter.

Supporters of a McKenna candidacy argue that the notion of uniting the left is a losing strategy for the Liberal party and that only a move back to the political centre will unseat Stephen Harper's Conservatives. Liberals not aligned with either the Rae or Ignatieff camps say the two men are "on a collision course -- they can hardly stand being in the same room."

"Their leadership efforts did not even abate during the election. They both had people close to Dion and they had divided loyalties. It's hard to focus on plan A when you're working on plan B," said one MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Another said: "I fear my party is about to eat itself whole."

Mr. McKenna's candidacy is viewed by many as an option for those seeking party unity, and would likely receive backing from many Rae and Ignatieff supporters. Former Ontario premier David Peterson, who supported Mr. Ignatieff in the 2006 leadership race, said earlier this year that if Mr. McKenna wanted to reenter public life, he would not have to organize because "a massive organization would organize itself."

Given Liberal fundraising problems, the entry into a leadership race of a high-profile candidate who could excite the party's grassroots would also give a boost to the Grits' ability to raise money.

"He's independently wealthy, he's blue chip and he's the only candidate who could raise the kind of money needed in the time frame required," the Liberal source said.

However, the job of Liberal leader is not yet open. Mr. Dion said in his concession speech that he is looking forward to being leader of the Official Opposition in the new Parliament. Close aides said yesterday that he needs more time before he makes a decision on whether to stay on. "This has been a devastating time for him," one advisor said.

Another person close to Mr. Dion said he deserved "the time and respect to think about the future before the vultures descend."

Other Liberals were less understanding. Stephen Le-Drew, a former Liberal president, said that at the party's convention next May, members will be asked whether they want a leadership review. "That would be very divisive and the only honourable thing for Mr. Dion to do is to step down before May, 2009. In my view, an interim leader should be appointed."

Tom Axworthy, a former principal secretary to Pierre Trudeau, said the party needs to address more issues than simply choosing a new leader.

Mr. Axworthy was the chairman of a renewal commission that was appointed to look at all aspects of the party's operation after the past election defeat. The commission said there is an "implementation gap" between what Liberals promise and what they deliver, so greater emphasis should be placed on improving government effectiveness. It also urged that such major initiatives as Mr. Dion's Green Shift be voted on by members.

However, the recommendations of the 30 or so task forces were largely ignored by Mr. Dion when he became leader. "Leadership ambitions today may mean they ignore the deep-seated problems of the party and hope that glitz will win the day. It's always a dilemma between personal agendas and party need," Mr. Axworthy said.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Why we need Frank McKenna

You'll be hearing his name a heck of a lot more in the next weeks and months. If The Honourable Frank McKenna wants to run for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada, he will have a large outpouring of support, from all regions of the country, from all sects of the party.

With Frank McKenna, we would have a proven and succesful leader, a true Liberal, solid experience in community leadership and politics and diplomacy and business, a patriotic Canadian, a proven poverty fighter, a genuine moderate who would govern from the centre, someone every Canadian could be proud of and who will command respect in the world, across Canada and from every demographic.
  • Real and proven leadership
  • Successful self-made career in law
  • the most successful and accomplished Premier in New Brunswick
  • Chair of CanWest
  • Vice-Chair of TD Bank
  • Ambassador of Canada to the United States
  • lifelong resident of Canada and member of the Liberal Party
  • bilingual former Premier of Canada's only bilingual province
  • not from Toronto
  • recognized, respected, electible
  • demonstrable experience as both a progressive liberal and a job-creating, budget balancing centrist - the genuine classic Liberal Brand, not just a marketing strategy
  • successful and respected leader in business and finance in a time when we need experience in troubled economy - unlike Harper, he's been out there leading and doing, not just studying from an ideological playbook

More and more and more to come.

For a brief bio, see here.

Gleaner: 'Father' of N.B. call centre industry proud of record

'Father' of N.B. call centre industry proud of record

Published Thursday October 9th, 2008

Former premier Frank McKenna says he's proud to see the call centre industry provide jobs to thousands of New Brunswickers more than 15 years after he first lured one to the province.

With 17 per cent unemployment in the early 1990s, jobs were needed, he told a packed audience at the Delta Fredericton Hotel.

Contact Atlantic, a regional conference on the call centre industry, was held Wednesday in the capital.

McKenna, who was greeted as the "father" of the New Brunswick industry, said he remembers the criticism well when he first brought 50 call centre jobs to New Brunswick.

"They said that these were just big companies looking for a government handout and that they and their jobs would be gone in no time."

But 15 years later there are more than 21,000 New Brunswickers employed in the industry, which is injecting more than $1 billion into the provincial economy.

"I think we did a pretty good job," McKenna told the crowd.

Mike Bacon, executive director of ContactNB, the industry association that represents the province's 90-plus contact centres, said he remembers hearing the same thing when he started in the industry 14 years ago at Xerox.

"People called them McJobs. That was the perception. But now you have people who have worked in the industry for 14 or 15 years, who have had great careers. And guess what? Those companies are still here," Bacon said.

There are plenty of people working in the Fredericton area for contact centres such as Marriott, Delta, UPS, Avis-Budget and President's Choice, he said.

Business New Brunswick Minister Greg Byrne said he wants to build on that success and increase the presence of companies that are already here by having them consider more operations such as back-office processing.

"We have a proven track record here, businesses are very satisfied and they recognize our strengths: a loyal workforce, low-turnover, telecommunications infrastructure, widespread broadband access and a bilingual workforce," Byrne said.

Employers have told him that they have their lowest employee turnover in New Brunswick, where the average employee tends to stay for eight years.

McKenna said he's heard the same thing and he knows the province is well regarded by businesses that have chosen to establish here.

"The only reason it went anywhere was because we delivered on value," he said, noting how the hard work and commitment of workers are what made the sector a success.

It was a salesman's job convincing people at first, he said.

"Everyone got caught up in the idea that we could pull ourselves up," he said.

Wanna Help Elect Canada's Next Prime Minister?

This is early early stages yet, but if you are interested in trying to convince Frank McKenna to get back involved in politics, to convince him that his party and his country needs him right now, then send you contact information to us in the comments below or in a confidential email to Frank4PM@yahoo.ca.

Recent articles on Frank McKenna

Google News Search

Canada ‘ punching below’ its weight in aid — McKenna
Canada has fallen behind too many other nations in providing aid to developing countries, Frank McKenna says. "I would like to see us stop punching below our weight," the former Liberal premier of New Brunswick and Canadian ambassador to the United States told a Halifax dinner Wednesday night. Mr. McKenna said Canada dedicates only 0.28 per cent of its budget to helping developing countries. "That’s half of what we gave in the early 1990s," he said at a benefit dinner for the Coady International Institute in Antigonish... [Read More]
Canada should be 'strutting our stuff' and helping the poor: McKenna
Canada needs to do more to help out the poorest nations of the world, according to an impassioned Frank McKenna. “I’d like to see us stop punching below our weight,” he told a crowd of hundreds at the Westin Hotel in Halifax last night... [Read More]
McKenna lauds city for its First Steps efforts
The city's First Steps Housing Project fulfills a "very important societal objective" in offering single parents a chance to raise their children in a healthy environment, says Frank McKenna, deputy chairman of TD Bank Financial Group. "This is an example of a community taking control of a very important social issue," McKenna, a former premier of New Brunswick, said Monday. "It's a very, very profound social problem that's extremely hard to deal with and it requires a sophisticated network of support in order to break the cycle." ... [Read More]
Poor priorities
CANADA is stingy. Frank McKenna didn’t put it quite so bluntly at a recent benefit dinner for St. F.X.’s Coady International Institute, which educates community development leaders from around the globe. But you could catch his drift on the subject of Ottawa’s lack of commitment to foreign aid... [Read More]
Harper has a future; Dion's history
Liberal MPs Bob Rae and Michel Ignatieff, both of whom held their seats, will be
the names on Liberal lips as contenders again. But no one should rule out the
return of former deputy prime minister John Manley, or
former New Brunswick
premier Frank McKenna
, either of whom could win the leadership while taking the party back toward the centre of the political spectrum... [
Read More]

Liberals need to find a cure for Stelmach Syndrome
The Liberals, coming from an opposition place, need to choose much more carefully if they ever hope to call Ottawa their own once again. No more doubtful and divisive candidates like Michael Ignatieff, guilty of being an intellectual with no political experience, or Bob Rae, whose history as Ontario premier sharply split his support. The Liberals need a new leader -- John Manley, Brian Tobin, Frank McKenna -- someone who doesn't have to come up the middle, as Dion did, to win the leadership... [Read More]
Development Financial crisis won't make mortgages hard to get in city, says top bank executive
The worldwide financial crisis won't mean that mortgages to buy homes in the city will be hard to get, says former New Brunswick premier and top bank executive Frank McKenna... [Read More]
'Father' of N.B. call centre industry proud of record
Former premier Frank McKenna says he's proud to see the call centre industry provide jobs to thousands of New Brunswickers more than 15 years after he first lured one to the province. With 17 per cent unemployment in the early 1990s, jobs were needed, he told a packed audience at the Delta Fredericton Hotel. Contact Atlantic, a regional conference on the call centre industry, was held Wednesday in the capital. McKenna, who was greeted as the "father" of the New Brunswick industry, said he remembers the criticism well when he first brought 50 call centre jobs to New Brunswick. "They said that these were just big companies looking for a government handout and that they and their jobs would be gone in no time." But 15 years later there are more than 21,000 New Brunswickers employed in the industry, which is injecting more than $1 billion into the provincial economy. "I think we did a pretty good job," McKenna told the crowd... [Read More]
Read more about former New Brunswick Premier, The Honourable Frank McKenna, in the news.

Re-Introducing You to The Honourable Frank McKenna

Frank McKenna

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Francis Joseph "Frank" McKenna PC OC QC ONB (born January 19, 1948, in Apohaqui, New Brunswick, Canada) is a Canadian businessman and former politician and diplomat. He is currently Deputy Chairman of the Toronto-Dominion Bank. He served as Canadian Ambassador to the United States from 2005 to 2006. [1] He served as Premier of New Brunswick from 1987 to 1997.

Private life
Frank McKenna was raised in the home of his grandparents who lived adjacent to his parents, because his large family could not be wholly housed in his parents' home. After completing high school in Sussex, New Brunswick, he completed a bachelor's degree at Saint Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. He began graduate studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, but after working for a stint with Allan MacEachen he took MacEachen's advice that most politicians are lawyers and enrolled in law school at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton. After he obtained a law degree, he moved to Chatham, New Brunswick, and began the practice of law. He became famous and something of a folk hero, particularly among Acadians, as the defence solicitor in the high-profile murder case of famous New Brunswick boxing champion, Yvon Durelle, in what was a widely publicized case.

New Brunswick politics
A few years later, he entered provincial politics and won a seat in the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick in the 1982 election to represent Chatham. He became leader of the provincial Liberals in 1985, and won one of the largest electoral victories in Canadian history in 1987 when his party won every seat in the legislature.

McKenna's term in office was viewed mostly as a success. His key priority throughout his term was job creation and he was known to say that the "best social program we have is a job." He encouraged small business growth and tried to entice large companies to invest in the province with tax incentives, often directly calling individual professionals to urge them to bring their talents to New Brunswick. Another of his strategies was to raise the collective self confidence of New Brunswickers, which he believed would increase productivity. He introduced a sophisticated public relations operation which included the use of controversial video news releases. He was criticized for increasing the number of communications personnel on the government payroll but countered this complaint by pointing out that the primary government communications agency, Communications New Brunswick, had been depoliticized. Communications New Brunswick had been responsible to the Premier's chief of staff in past governments and McKenna made it report to the head of the civil service. He was also criticized for creating a toll free telephone number to the premier's office which had the number 1-800-MCKENNA, the number was functional throughout North America and was used for both New Brunswick constituents and business interests that were considering moving to the province.

Believing ten years was long enough for a premier to hold office, and having pledged to serve such a term when first elected, McKenna resigned in 1997 - 10 years to the day of the 1987 election.

Business career
After leaving office McKenna moved to Cap-Pélé, New Brunswick, near Moncton, and returned to the practice of law and sat on numerous corporate boards. He also purchased with his son James McKenna Glenwood Kitchen Ltda manufacturer of high-end custom cabinetry in Shediac, New Brunswick. His membership on the Canadian advisory board of the Carlyle Group drew adverse media attention; the media ceased pursuing the issue when McKenna explained that the board was established to advise on a Canadian investment fund that the group never created and that the board had never become active. Following the announcement of his appointment as Canadian ambassador to Washington, he resigned his position as counsel at law firms as well as all positions on corporate boards including his role as interim chairman of the board of CanWest Global Communications, a post he assumed upon the death of its founder and chairman Israel Asper.

McKenna was mentioned as a possible Ambassador to the US to succeed Michael Kergin after Paul Martin took power. Speculation increased after John Manley turned down Prime Minister Martin's offer. Many in the press commented on McKenna's business connections being an asset, notably as a member of the Carlyle Group and his friendship with former President George H. W. Bush.

On January 5, 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin's office confirmed that McKenna would be the 21st Ambassador to the United States. On January 14, the posting was formally announced and would be effective on March 1. McKenna became the Ambassador on March 8 when U.S. President George W. Bush accepted his credentials.

On February 22, 2005, McKenna told reporters Canada was already a part of the U.S. National Missile Defense (NMD) (or Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)) program through an amendment to the NORAD agreement made on August 5, 2004, which granted U.S. access to NORAD's missile warning systems explicitly for use in NMD. However, Martin contradicted this two days later when he announced that Canada would not formally participate in the NMD program but focus on other items of shared defence/security interest. While Canadian defence minister Bill Graham said McKenna was simply misunderstood (as the NORAD agreement and missile defence are separate), this initial contradiction was interpreted by others as evidence of characteristic indecision by the Martin government and was seen to somewhat hamper McKenna's credibility.

As Ambassador, McKenna attracted more media attention than most of his recent predecessors on both sides of the border. In the U.S. his message was one of dispelling common urban legends and misconceptions about Canada, while in Canada he urged Canadians to be more understanding of the American people and culture, particularly following what he argued is their understandable sensitivity after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

McKenna generated controversy after giving a luncheon speech on September 29, 2005, to a Toronto business club. McKenna blasted the U.S. bureaucracy and Congressional system of government saying "the government of the United States is in large measure dysfunctional." He contrasted it with Canada's government, and praised Canada's strong parliamentary party discipline as being much more "efficient" though sometimes less preferable.

On January 25, 2006, McKenna offered his resignation as Ambassador, writing to Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper that he wished to be relieved of his duties, but offering to stay on until his successor is chosen. He was succeeded as ambassador by Michael Wilson on March 13, 2006.

Prospective career in federal politics
Since leaving politics in 1997, McKenna served for a brief time on the Security Intelligence Review Committee. He has been touted several times as a potential Atlantic Canadian minister in the cabinets of Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin. He expressed some interest in running in the 2004 federal election but announced he would not do so because of the lack of an available riding in the Moncton, New Brunswick, area. He did not want to push aside any incumbent Liberal member of Parliament.

After resigning the premiership of New Brunswick, McKenna was identified as a potential future leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, and Prime Minister of Canada. A poll released on August 23, 2005, commissioned by the Toronto Star, showed that McKenna was the top choice of the public to succeed Prime Minister Paul Martin. Among the general public, McKenna beat former NDP Ontario Premier Bob Rae by a margin of 23 to 11 while among self-identified Liberals, McKenna beat former Deputy Prime Minister of Canada John Manley by a margin of 28 to 13.[1] The October 2005 issue of Saturday Night magazine had pollster Darrell Bricker and Liberal strategist Warren Kinsella create odds for potential Liberal leadership candidates. They made McKenna the favourite with 7 to 2 odds beating Scott Brison (8 to 1), Martin Cauchon (10 to 1), Michael Ignatieff and John Manley (each 15 to 1) among others.

On January 30, 2006, McKenna confirmed earlier reports that he was not running for the Liberal leadership to replace Paul Martin, who announced his resignation as party leader on the January 23, 2006 election night. McKenna acknowledged the strength of the Liberal brand stating: "You’ve got pretty good odds of being the prime minister if you're leader of the Liberal party" - nearly every leader of the Liberal party since Sir Wilfrid Laurier in 1896 has been prime minister.[2] However, he put an end to his involvement in the 2006 Liberal Party leadership race, explaining his decision by saying that he did not want "his life to become consumed by politics."[3] and that: "I reminded myself of my vow upon leaving office that, having escaped the trap, I wouldn’t go back for the cheese."[4]

Frank McKenna was appointed as Deputy Chair, TD Bank Financial Group effective May 1, 2006[5]. In his new role, McKenna will be responsible for helping to build long-term business relationships that support TD’s growth strategy in Canada and the United States.
McKenna will be responsible for supporting the company in its customer acquisition strategy, particularly in the areas of wholesale and commercial banking. In addition, he will be responsible for representing TD as it works to expand its North American presence as one of the continent's ten largest banks, as measured by market capitalization.

Further reading
Philip Lee, Frank: The Life and Politics of Frank McKenna, Goose Lane, 2001.
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