Canada

New book on McKenna's economic legacy

A new book on Frank McKenna is in the stores. It's not a tell-all biography but a critical look at McKenna's economic performance. It's written by a Moncton author, professor and political analyst.

Donald Savoie has known Frank McKenna for almost two decades. They're long-time friends and golfing buddies. The new book is called "Pulling against Gravity: Economic development in New Brunswick During the McKenna Years." Savoie says it's an economic report card on Frank McKenna.

"Has the New Brunswick economy been transformed? The short answer is, no. There's no miracle here," says Savoie.

Savoie says McKenna didn't change the province's basic economic structure but he did bring solid progress.

"If you compare the McKenna years to three other provinces of similar size, Newfoundland, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, there's all kinds of indicators that New Brunswick outperformed these three provinces. So, there's a lot of good that came out of the McKenna years," the author says.

The main thesis of Savoie's book is that New Brunswick was losing out because of the push for strong central government. Savoie writes that McKenna fought this.

"What he did do was hustle hustle economic development, hustle jobs, hustle CEOs, trying to bring jobs into the province of New Brunswick. It was in that sense that he was pulling against gravity," Savoie believes.

McKenna opened New Brunswick up for business. Under his leadership the employment rate went up, so did per capita income. He liked to say that he was the CEO of the province of New Brunswick. It's a label that he wore well.

McKenna left his stamp on the province and Savoie's book comes out amidst speculation that McKenna would like to put his mark on the national scene. Some of those who spoke to the CBC on the streets of Moncton said McKenna would make an effective Prime Minister.

What does Savoie thinks about McKenna on the national scene?

"Would he be successful at national politics?" Savoie asks. "I think he'd give it a good fist."

Savoie says he has asked his friend about his political future, but McKenna's been coy.