Frank McKenna: Beyond Politics

Frank McKenna: Beyond Politics

by Harvey Sawler
     
 

Frank McKenna was one of Canada's most highly respected politicians, and this compelling biography is a must-read for anyone who wants to unravel the mystery of this intriguing man. Why would a news-making criminal lawyer, a popular premier whose party swept every seat in the New Brunswick legislature and a highly effective Canadian ambassador to the United States

Overview

Frank McKenna was one of Canada's most highly respected politicians, and this compelling biography is a must-read for anyone who wants to unravel the mystery of this intriguing man. Why would a news-making criminal lawyer, a popular premier whose party swept every seat in the New Brunswick legislature and a highly effective Canadian ambassador to the United States have turned down the chance to become prime minister-not once, but twice?

Today, McKenna's potent mix of intelligence, humour, honesty and savvy continue to make him a corporate dynamo, an engaging speaker and an inspiring public figure. With candid insights from politicians, family, friends and McKenna himself, Frank McKenna: Beyond Politics is a fascinating look at perhaps the best prime minister Canada never had.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A portrait of an extremely able, intelligent, dedicated public servant and private citizen.”—President Bill Clinton

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781553655930
Publisher:
Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.
Publication date:
03/01/2011
Pages:
344
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 18: A Diplomatic Debate

There were signs in the spring of 2009 that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives were starting to pick up on the need to communicate better in the U.S. In mid-April, the government actually admitted publicly that they were paying lobbyists to try and smooth the way for more Canadian exposure. Just a week or two prior, the prime minister had suddenly begun to appear on major U.S. talk shows similar to the ones McKenna had been chasing four years prior. There was, however, something institutional and robotic about Harper’s message and delivery compared to the impassioned style of McKenna.

The debate over McKenna’s effectiveness as Canadian ambassador continues with the boyish, if not impish, Chris Sands, a regular go-to guy whenever the media are looking for analysis on Canadian affairs in Washington. He looks amazingly like the straight-laced pc guy in the Macintosh computer commercials; he also has the wholesome look of a man of the cloth—and, in fact, teaches young people at his suburban Washington-area church. Having earned his PhD from Johns Hopkins University specializing in Canada, U.S.-Canada relations and North American economic integration, Sands seems like he’s everywhere: an adjunct professor at the American University School of Public Affairs; a senior fellow at the American University Center for North American Studies; a member of the advisory committee to the U.S. Section of the North American Competitiveness Council; a lecturer at the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. Department of State for the Department of Homeland Security; and a senior fellow at Washington’s Hudson Institute, a public policy research organization that forecasts trends and develops solutions for governments, businesses and the public at large. You know the company you’re about to keep by the photographs on the wall of the institute’s lobby. With the likes of Ronald Reagan and Dick Cheney among those prominently displayed, everything looks and feels Republican.

Sands is a talking machine who especially appreciates being interviewed about Frank McKenna, if only because it gives him a chance to discuss Canada. Hardly anybody at the institute talks about Canada because most things there are so American-centric. Calling McKenna the first truly “political ambassador” to the U.S. in Canadian history, Sands reinforces the sharp contrast with previous ambassadors, especially Chrétien and Kergin. “Kergin was an inside guy, just as Raymond Chrétien had been, but McKenna came in with the political skills,” says Sands. By “inside guys,” Sands means that the two were too low-key for Canada’s good. The problem was exemplified by President George W. Bush’s oversight in not thanking Canada in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and of his failure to speak publicly when a U.S.-led friendly fire incident in Afghanistan ended up killing four Canadian soldiers (even though Bush had carried out the proper protocol of calling Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in the middle of the night to advise him of the incident and to express his regret on behalf of Americans). Canada was not on the radar at a time when Canadians felt they were involved in U.S. causes—and Canadian citizens became incensed about it.

So along comes McKenna riding on expectations that, because of his political background, he would be the salesman for new Canadian policies that Prime Minister Martin had promised would be more pro-American. But the Martin government, rather than shifting to a more pro-American stance, “became extremely ambivalent about whether it really wanted to get close to this [Bush] administration,” Sands explains. He believes the Martin government saw that domestic polls did not support U.S. policies such as BMD. “They were willing to be in Afghanistan. That was a big commitment, but they went in a little bit tentatively and then with the wrong equipment and they had a lot of issues trying to get organized there.” These conditions created an overall drag on the U.S. attitude toward Canada, which spun off into issues such as border security. For example, while the Martin government thought Canadians would be exempted from passport requirements for entry into the U.S., the Americans were in no such frame of mind. Canadians became subject to this requirement on June 1, 2009.

Meet the Author

Harvey Sawler is the author of a number of works of fiction and non-ficiton. He lives in Bellevue Cove, Price Edward Island

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