Come back, Frank

The TJ has a spirited editorial today that reads like an open letter to Frank McKenna asking him to run for Liberal leader.

If you Google this blog and McKenna you will see that I was a big supporter of much of his economic development approach. I was disappointed that he didn’t take a Jesus and his disciples approach and weave the focus on economic development into the fabric of the civil service so that when he left there wouldn’t be this giant sucking sound.

The post McKenna Tories took credit for it but the reality is that more call centre jobs were created under Lord than McKenna. The spade work was done by the former, the benefits reaped by the latter.

But the call centre industry has a shelf life (it seems after anther 550 announced this week the shelf life has been extended a bit) and both Shawn Graham and David Alward should be looking for another rainmaker economic development opportunity – and it likely isn’t energy. There will be no 12,000 call centre jobs waiting to greet a David Alward administration should he unseat the Liberals in 2010.

Back to Frank. There is something to be said about charisma and the ability to capture people’s imagination with a rousing speech. But the national stage is certainly different than little old New Brunswick. However, Frank has spent the last 12 years building a national and international profile so he is ready.

I agree with the TJ that Frank should run. I am not as worshipful nor do I think that a Frank McKenna PM would necessarily be that good for New Brunswick. The tired old model of more equalization and enriching EI would be tempting for him as well. For Frank McKenna to go abroad and promote Canada to global corporations and for some of them to set up in New Brunswick rather than Ontario or Quebec would be just as politically damaging to Frank (maybe more so) than any other PM. Most Ontarioans are willing to send transfer payments down here but manufacturing jobs? Not likely.

Just imagine the Toronto Star headline if the Telegraph-Journal headline was McKenna brings 1,000 aerospace jobs to Dalhousie. Imagine the National Post headline if the Daily Gleaner headline was PM McKenna delivers 500 Microsoft jobs to Fredericton.

Another Gordian knot, my friends.