Saturday, October 18, 2008

Frank McKenna: Forever Testing the Waters

1989: Ontario Premier David Peterson interrupted a brief vacation with Frank McKenna Tuesday to suggest that the New Brunswick premier should run for the federal Liberal leadership.

1990: Whispers about McKenna's interest in replacing John Turner have been growing in New Brunswick in recent weeks because the premier is shopping for a new speech writer.

1997: Journalist Allan Fotheringham, who reported this in the Financial Post, suggested the Martinites regard former New Brunswick premier Frank McKenna as a real danger, though it's hard to see the country choosing a man so earnest and eager to please.

1998: Frank McKenna, the political wunderkind who ran New Brunswick for a decade and is still only 50, might be persuaded to leave the corporate world and go into federal politics, where he was once expected to go.

2002: The former premier of New Brunswick, Frank McKenna, has also been mentioned as a potential candidate.

2003: Mr. McKenna, who attended the Liberal convention briefly last week and didn't rule out running.

2004: McKenna has made it clear that while he wants to run for election in a seat in the Moncton area, he does not want to fight for the nomination with an incumbent MP.

August 2005: Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna, is seen as the prime contender to replace Prime Minister Paul Martin.

December 2005: Topping everyone's list of heirs-apparent is Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Frank McKenna.

January 2006: The body isn't even warm yet, and already there are at least two senior Liberals -- Frank McKenna and John Manley -- who insiders say are quietly gearing up their leadership campaigns.

January 2006: A longtime friend and political ally of McKenna's said the former premier is a "political addict" and will be very tempted to plunge into the leadership contest.

May 2006: A source, however, told The Hill Times that "don't be surprised if you see the draft [Frank] McKenna campaign by late July" if none of these official Liberal candidates emerges as a clear front-runner.

July 2006: If you ask some Liberals whom, among the 11 candidates, is going to win the
leadership campaign, the answer is now the twelfth, Frank McKenna.


McKenna Eyeing Liberal leadership: source

Lord Discusses McKenna as Grit leader

"I don’t think the people who are putting his name out there are doing it without some indication that he wants it out there," one Liberal said Thursday.

(linkless entries found via proquest)

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  • It's Canada's longest running campaign for leadership of the Federal Liberals.

    Heard of vapourware? Welcome to vapour-leader.

    By Blogger Mark Richard Francis, at 4:35 p.m.  

  • Frank McKenna will never run for the leadership because he is not about to take risks with his reputation at this stage of his career.

    Right now, McKenna has a sterling reputation as a politician, businessman and statesman.

    If he starts down the path towards the leadership, he will be judged a failure unless he takes the Liberals back to a majority.

    But to do that, he has to win a leadership in a likely crowded field, rebuild the Liberal party and defeat the better-funded and better-organized Conservatives.

    Oh, and he has two elections to do that, one of which is 2-3 years away, and he'd get at most 2 terms as PM, given his age.

    Put that all together, and you'll see that the downside to running is much higher than the upside for McKenna. So he won't do it.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:42 p.m.  

  • $$$

    Why run? Frank's living the good life now and the Liberal Party is a mess.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:56 p.m.  

  • Now paging Mario Cuomo...

    By Blogger Ben (The Tiger in Exile), at 5:05 p.m.  

  • Poor Bernie Lord. If he had run way back when, he could be PM today.

    I've never understood what people see in McKenna. He is not a compelling speaker and he has zero French speaking ability.

    If Libs are looking for a successful Premier, draft McGuinty. Or better yet, Jean Charest.

    Go with someone warm and with a ready-made organization to boot. Gee guys, you guys came within a few thousand votes of knocking off Harper with DION as leader, it's really not all that bad.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:30 p.m.  

  • It's true - Frank knows better than to get into this mess.

    I think it's just a kneejerk reaction to writing a Liberal leadership article - journalists type "leader of the Liberal Party" and "sources close to Frank McKenna" just follow without any actual research going on.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:17 p.m.  

  • Is this like the "Law and Order" guy who was coaxed to run for Republican Leadership? Once he threw his hat in the ring, the support the media had created turned out to be a mirage.

    Somehow. I don't believe the hype about McKenna is all that its made out to be.

    But I guess the weak and the poor will often put all their hopes into futile strategies like prayer, magic potions or saviors like Frank McKenna.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:56 p.m.  

  • Is this like the "Law and Order" guy who was coaxed to run for Republican Leadership? Once he threw his hat in the ring, the support the media had created turned out to be a mirage.

    The Law & Order guy was Senator Fred Dalton Thompson. To be honest, it's hard to say that a man roundly described as lazy by most people and even the media was seen as the saviour. (Heehee, I remember even Fox News implied that Thompson was lazy at one point -- traveling around via a golf card -- which is never a good sign.)

    From his bio, Frank, McKenna as premier of New Brunswick was a workaholic. He also managed to attract quite a bit of attention as the Canadian ambassador to the US and tried some ambitious projects while he was down there (ambitious to some, self-serving to others, I suppose).

    I don't think McKenna will save the party, but I'd never compare him to Thompson.

    By Blogger sharonapple88, at 10:42 p.m.  

  • Powell for Obama!!!

    By Blogger Ashley_Wilkes-Booth, at 10:00 a.m.  

  • Yeah!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:58 p.m.  

  • It's worth remembering that there was no Liberal incumbent in Moncton in 2004. The sitting member (Claudette Bradshaw) had announced she was retiring and former Moncton mayor Brian Murphy had announced that he was running for the nomination. What Frank was looking for was a coronation and there was no way he was going to get it. Claudette had taken the nomination away from Frank's annointed candidate in 1997 and there was no way she would let him succeed her without a fight.'s also worth remembering that John Herron, the Tory-turned-Liberal in Fundy-Royal, offered to step aside and let Frank run there; a riding which included his hometown of Apahoqui. He declined that one too knowing there was no way in hell the good burghers of Kings and Albert counties were ever going to send him to Ottawa, so fondly remembered were his days as premier.

    Move along McKenna watchers. Nothing to see here.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:50 p.m.  

  • I could never support McKenna for leader. He's anti-choice, and sat on the board of the Carlyle group together with the Bush family and the Bin Laden family.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:02 p.m.  

  • Funny how almost none of those citations ever mention Frank expressing his own desire to run.

    He has been seen as a possible leader by others for many many years. What does that tell you? Not much. Could be that he's always been on people's lists because he's proven he can lead.

    What the party needs most right now is a leader who:
    - can bring proven governing and leadership skills
    - has solid fiscal and economic credentials
    - can step above prior leadership battles
    - has a proven history as a moderate and a centrist: fighting for ordinary Canadians by using the government appropriately, while showing acumen in being fiscally responsible and creating jobs, especially during these economic times
    - bilingual
    - has broad appeal across the entire country and across different demographics (I would have added a criteria for not being from Toronto, but that would have too seriously restricted the list of potential candidates. But the Liberal Party’s core caucus is now from Montreal and Toronto, and we need someone who can expand that base, not one who is from it.)
    - has the ability to connect with ordinary Canadians
    - doesn’t have significant baggage
    - lifelong Liberal
    - proven electoral and governing success
    - has proven fundraising abilities

    I think McKenna stacks up pretty good against that list. Whether he wants it or not is another question. Clearly, many Canadians have wanted him for a long time. Count us among them: Frank McKenna for Prime Minister (see also, the Frank McKenna for Prime Minister Facebook Group, already growing rapidly).

    What we probably don't want as Liberals is a straight-up fight between the new Hatfield and McCoys, Rae vs. Iggy. Both have shown that they deserve to be Liberals despite their very very short history in the party, but both have waaaay too much baggage and, far worse (especially electorally), reside in Toronto.

    By Blogger Frank4PM, at 4:12 p.m.  

  • He's considered anti-choice and can't speak French. That's not just baggage, that's a whole cargo container. He can recant his anti-choice views, but if he wanted to be leader he would have been working on his French already.

    As evidence that he would be happy to renounce his anti-choice views for political expediency, I offer his statement made as a guest at Scott Brison's wedding.

    "Everyone involved felt like they were part of a history-making event," said McKenna. "It seemed like a validation of a long process."

    Since being politically anti-choice (almost) always includes virulent homophobia, his willingness to give his stamp of approval to equal marriage makes me think that if he ran for leader he'd be recanting his anti-choice views.

    By Blogger Reality Bites, at 8:22 a.m.  

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