The Frank Factor

It’s been 13 years since former Premier Frank McKenna resigned and he still has pretty amazing resonance.  I was in a room of maybe 25 people today and the speaker made a passing reference to ‘Frank’ – not ‘Frank McKenna, not former Premier Frank Mckenna, just something like that’s how ‘Frank’ did it – and everyone in the room seemed to know who Frank was.

There were probably 9-10 people in the room around 35 years old or younger – which means that none of theme were out of university while McKenna was still Premier – and everyone knew who ‘Frank’ was.

I’ll bet if someone said that’s how Bernie did it or even that’s how Shawn does it – with no political refererence – I doubt anyone in the room would get the reference.

I have said before that McKenna’s legacy – particularly inthe economic development area – was probably not as stellar as some would like to say but there is no question that he captured the collective psyche.

4 thoughts on “The Frank Factor

  1. One of the biggest differences with ‘Frank’ and other leaders is this: Frank looked at successful businesses and determined how they could help New Brunswick. Since Frank, successful businesses look at our Premier and determine what he could do for them.

    Remember when New Brunswick, led by our Premier, was chasing down UPS, Purolator, Royal Bank, Xerox etc in pursuit of having them invest in New Brunswick and create jobs? This stuff was regularly reported in national papers. Now we have secret meetings where business pulls the premier’s strings to get lower taxes, lower energy rates or bail out money.

    No strategy. No passion. No respect. No results.

  2. Who was in the room? I suspect if you actually asked the younger folk who ‘frank’ was you wouldn’t get the response you think, particularly given the amount of interest young people express in politics.

    The main difference I know is that it is well known that Frank had a public relations team three times the size of any other politician, even the Prime Minister. Every time he went to the can it was in the paper. Without NBTel nobody would remember who Frank McKenna was-except that he’s the guy who sic’d RCMP dogs on mothers and kids protesting their school closing.

    It’s no surprise that his popularity began sinking after day one. He’d REALLY be no different than any other politician if the opposition hadn’t at that time broken up and divided the opposition. He got out when he did because he saw the writing on the wall. What he is most famous for is being symbolic of all that is wrong with the electoral voting system and why a good percentage of young people don’t vote-with only 60% of the vote he captured EVERY seat in the legislature. 40% of the population had NO representation in a so called democracy.

    His successes have been highly overhyped, and are now mostly non-existent. His failures, including creating new millionaires out of former criminals in the video lottery deal (which also has been shown to be a complete disaster), are generally ignored. We can add workfare and educational policies in there as well.

    What he DID do is make politics focus specifically on ‘the bottom line’ and gear it toward costs and benefits rather than be actually representative of the population. Although he added to debt and never once showed a surplus he was one of the first in the country to focus on debt reduction as the primary goal of government (to be fair at the time that wasn’t an unreasonable aim).

    McKenna did the same that every Premier since confederation has done-bend over for industry. He didn’t do it nearly as well as some, and better than others. The main reason he’s still remembered and commented on is that other premiers are dead, and he has continually had a political career and for some odd reason people keep thinking he’d run for Prime Minister.

    That doesn’t even get into his stint with the Caryle Group, one of the most corrupt and bloody companies on the planet. I’d also suspect that the main reason he’s known is…what other NB politician on the federal stage HAS there been? Plus, of course, most pundits are of that age when nostalgia starts taking hold:)

Comments are closed.