Wednesday, October 22, 2008

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.

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