“It’s enormously humbling to have an award like this named after me,” said Frank McKenna. “Usually, they wait ’til you’re dead, and I guess PPF got tired of waiting.”

In defiance of the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks creeping slowly up the Atlantic Coast, a crowd of public policy champions gathered on March 21 in Fredericton to celebrate at the PPF Atlantic Dinner & Frank McKenna Awards.

After words of welcome from our own President and CEO, Edward Greenspon, and New Brunswick cabinet minister Gilles LePage, it was Frank McKenna’s rousing speech that set the stage for the rest of the evening. It was a great reminder of what endeared him to New Brunswickers during his three terms of majority government: humble, honest and hopeful.

“It’s enormously humbling to have an award like this named after me,” he said with a wry smile. “Usually, they wait ’til you’re dead, and I guess PPF got tired of waiting.”

As the laughter subsided, he got to the heart of his message for the evening: the world is a better place than the headlines would have us believe. Weaving fact and anecdote, he countered those who decry the changing world. “Immigration and globalization are the target, but they are not the source of the problem. They are part of the solution,” he said. “In a world of possibilities, there is no better place to be than right here in Canada. And you are selling the best part.”

After dinner, the four honourees received the Frank McKenna Awards. Created in 2013 to honour distinguished Atlantic Canadians who have built bridges between sectors, contributed to public policy and shown exceptional leadership, the awards were named after Mr. McKenna in 2017:

Chief Terrance Paul was introduced by the Government of Nova Scotia’s Paul Lafleche: “A man of great vision, integrity, community focus and unwavering dedication.”

“We chose change. From then and even today, our council and our Membertou executive team often chart our own path forward,” said Chief Paul, describing his approach. “When we reach a barrier, we don’t quit, we don’t walk away, we don’t accept no. We find a new opportunity.”

Adrienne O’Pray was introduced by previous honouree Gerry Pond: “She’s going to be our next female premier. She has the honesty and the energy to make that happen.”

“I’m grateful for the wisdom of a group of people on whose wings I arrived here tonight,” said Ms. O’Pray. “This is the group that brought social innovation labs to New Brunswick. I feel very fortunate to work with this group and I want to acknowledge its work.”

Dr. Doug House was introduced by Nora Duke: “He bridges public policy and academia. In all of the roles he’s held, he’s had an underlying commitment to our province and region.”

“Although this award is for me, it’s also for the collective group of people who’ve been involved with me through all these activities,” said Dr. House.

Dr. George Cooper “is passionate about the people around him and the things that he does,” said Dr. Nancy Mathis, who introduced him. “I hope that 50 years into my career I still have as much oomph as George still does.”

“It’s a delightful and unexpected award,” said Dr. Cooper between humorous remarks. “And I feel it deeply. Especially since it bears the name of a dear friend and one of the best Canadians ever in the public policy field.”

What we heard at the Dinner

 

 
Atlantic Dinner and Frank McKenna Awards 2018

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