On Monday this week, I attended Frank McKenna’s annual Maritime golf tournament at Fox Harb’r, Nova Scotia. Each year, Frank brings together the Maritime clans for a day of golf, politics, and lots of business networking. There’s always a great demand to attend any event that features the Irvings, the Sobeys, the McCains, and highly regarded blue chip people like John Bragg, Purdy Crawford, David Culver, among many other captains of business and politics.
I always find these events interesting because, as a Conservative, I tend to be in the minority in Frank’s crowd. This year I had the likes of Premier Hamm, Peter MacKay, Mark Ledwell, and a few other Tories for support, but there weren’t many of us. I couldn’t help but notice a great spring in the Liberals’ step this year, with a lot of bravado about their chances in 2015. In the past, I’d say these events were much more respectful of the strategic prowess of our current prime minister. But with the difficulties that he has experienced of late, I sense a new-found hope in my Liberal friends.
The speaker of the evening was Nicolas Sarkozy, minus his bride Carla Bruni (Carla did send her sister to the event in her place… some say to keep an eye on her husband!) Sarkozy proved to be a major hit with the audience, which was a surprise—much of what he said was in French delivered to an audience that was half unilingual English. But he spoke slowly and clearly, and with great passion. I’m not allowed to share what he actually said, as these events are all off the record. I can say that it would not surprise me if he were interested in returning to politics one day. Sarkozy seemed to relish a candid discussion of issues ranging from the behaviour of politicians, the British referendum on whether or not to exit the EU, European immigration laws, collective Western security, and Western culture and values. And he didn’t mind being provocative, knowing that there was no media to parse his every word. He was very complimentary of Canada and Canadians, and remains steadfast in his support of Canadian federalism.
Frank and TD Bank, whose president Ed Clark was very visible, are to be applauded for hosting such a powerful event in the beautiful surroundings of Ron Joyce’s Fox Harb’r resort. Frank is one of Canada’s best connected corporate directors, but it’s also impressive how he has not forgotten his many friends and political supporters in New Brunswick. Billionaires mix well with poll captains in a way that only seems to work in the Maritimes, where pretence is frowned upon and everyone is there to have a good time. I can’t wait until next year’s event.