Wednesday, October 15, 2008

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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