Introduction to the Honourable Mr. Frank Mckenna ('70)


4 November 1998

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, honoured guests, Most Reverend Colin Campbell, Chancellor of the University, and of course, the Honorable Allan J. MacEachen for whom the lecture series has been named. St. F. X. is very pleased to present the Allan J. MacEachen Annual Lecture in Politics. The lecture series was established in 1996 to honour a career of service, an exceptional career in Canadian government and politics. Of course it also honours a great friend of St. F. X., and current member of the Board of Governors, the Honourable Allan J. MacEachen.

As Frank McKenna entered the room, there was a spontaneous applause. That is revealing in itself. And whatever I may say, it will be but some small icing on a very thick cake.

Our speaker tonight, the Honourable Frank McKenna, was born in Apohaqui, New Brunswick. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from St. F. X. and carried out post-graduate studies in Political Science at Queen’s University. He studied law at the University of New Brunswick where, he was a Lord Beaverbrook Scholar. In 1985, following an early election in 1982 as an MLA, he was chosen leader of the Liberal Party of New Brunswick. He subsequently lead his party to electoral victory in 1987 - winning every seat in the New Brunswick legislature. Now whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, it certainly is an exceptional thing. He was sworn in as the twenty-seventh premier of New Brunswick and subsequently became known - over a number of years - as an exceptional and very animated and dynamic Premier of that province. His focus was job creation and government reform, with a long-term goal of self-sufficiency for the province.

During Frank McKenna’s years as Premier, thousands of new jobs were created in New Brunswick. Premier McKenna was energetic in attracting new investment and aggressively promoting New Brunswick’s small and medium-size businesses. While managing a very difficult fiscal situation, he reformed and modernized the province's social programs and the education and health-care sectors. As a result, the province received considerable international and national attention as a very progressive place to live and in which to grow.

During that same period, he was a key player on the national unity scene, taking part in crucial negotiations to help shape the future of Canada. As Premier of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna laboured diligently for a renewed province and a better country - a subject to which he returns tonight. While Premier he was awarded an honorary doctorate in Political Science from the University of Moncton and honorary doctorate of laws degrees from the University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison, St. Thomas, and of course, in 1994, from a certain university called St. F. X.

Frank McKenna won the Vanier award for Outstanding Young Canadians in 1988. In September 1993, the Economic Developers Association of Canada named him the economic developer of the year. In 1994, he was presented with the Canadian Advanced Technology Association’s Award of Distinction for Public Sector Leadership in the development and application of advanced technology in Canada. In 1996 he received the CATA IWAY award for government service. Continuing in his record of distinction, Mr. McKenna received the Canadian Association of University Continuing Education Award in May 1996, and he was named the inaugural member of the public service wing of the Canadian Information Productivity Awards Hall of Fame in that same year.

Not very long ago, Premier McKenna announced that he would retire. Now, many of you will know that in New Brunswick this was considered a very dramatic political moment. Of course, he didn’t really mean it. He announced that he was retiring as Premier of the province of New Brunswick. He said at the time, if my memory is correct, that when entering public life, he felt a decade was a sufficient period in which to make a contribution. At the end of that contribution, one should make room for others. The sentiment in New Brunswick when he announced he was making room for others was something short of jubilation. He had been, I think, one of the noteworthy figures of the previous decades in Canada. He certainly had acquired a national reputation. Instead of retiring, he has gone on to distinction in, not only the private sector, but in service to the public through the focus on job creation for young Canadians.

He is also, of course, with us as a distinguished alumnus of the University as is Julie his spouse, who is here too. And, I welcome as well, directly Jamie, who is a third-year Business student. And of course, the McKenna family has two recent graduates of the University. I know from speaking to audiences across the country, when we speak of St. F. X. and when we talk about our distinguished graduates, there is a name that receives a quick, unanimous, and rapid and natural response, just as like the response he received coming into the room today, and that name as a distinguished graduate of the University is Frank McKenna. Welcome, the Honourable Frank McKenna.


Political Science Department

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