Inverness County said a heartfelt thank-you to its former MLA

August 18, 2010

Inverness County said a heartfelt thank-you to its former MLA and former premier Rodney MacDonald on Friday night at the Mabou Hall.
The hall was packed with friends and admirers including such notables as former Deputy Prime Minister Allan J. MacEachen, former Premier John Hamm and his former colleagues, Jamie Muir, Ron Chisholm, and former deputy premier Angus MacIsaac.
His former assistant, Aaron MacDonald, acted as master of ceremonies and asked, “Why are we here?”
He said the answer in part was because of the Inverness hospital and Inverary Manor, the civic centre, the Margaree Harbour bridge, radio in Pleasant Bay, pavement, arenas, schools, hospitals, Pharmacare, the Crown share and the high-speed internet.
“He touched all of our lives over the past decade,” he said.
MacDonald said he has known “Rodney” all his life, from taking the census together to going to Big Pond to see Rita in Rodney’s burgundy Camaro.
As his assistant, the morning would start with Rodney jumping in the car, slapping the dash and saying, “Come on MacDonald!”
They spent 25 hours a day together, more time together than they spent with their families, thousands of miles between Halifax and Mabou.
He said the former premier liked things clean, including his shoes which he polished eight times a day, his car, his dash and his car mats.
Maureen MacDonald on behalf of the Mabou and District Athletic Club (arena) welcomed everyone to the celebration of Rodney.
She said he worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Inverness County and the people of Nova Scotia.
“It is only fitting that we say thank you for his outstanding public service,” she said.
Letters of congratulations were received from President Dobbs of St. Mary’s University, Halifax Biomedical’s Chad Munro, Keith MacDonald of Cape Breton Partnership, Father Vern Boutilier and MP Rodger Cuzner. Cuzner wrote that he and Rodney were told by then Warden A.J. MacDougall to get along, and they did much to the betterment of the area.
“For the people of Nova Scotia and Inverness County he did his very best on their behalf,” Cuzner wrote.
Inverness Progressive Conservative President Ian MacKeigan recalled one of the best nights of his life, the night Rodney was elected premier as well as the subsequent progressive initiatives of his government.
He said “our Rodney” will long be remembered for the offshore accord, his support of the fire service, the Pharmacare program and for buttressing Nova Scotia from the current, hard economic times.
“I’m sad it ended but will be forever grateful it happened,” he said. “I was proud to have helped him.”
Current Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster said Rodney was always good to say hello to, was always a fair and honourable person.
MacMaster said every community in Inverness County benefitted from Rodney’s years as MLA, and he will be remembered for the next 100 years.
He informed the crowd that a resolution was passed in the Nova Scotia Legislature on Thursday of last week acknowledging his contribution to the riding and the province.
Karen MacLean, Rodney’s sister, spoke on behalf of the family saying how proud they are of him while recalling the exciting days when he ran for the leadership of the P.C. Party.
“We’ll never do something like this again,” she said. “We want to thank all of you who worked so hard for our brother.”
Former Deputy Premier Angus MacIsaac said Rodney’s courage and vision gave his premiership and administration the ability to serve Nova Scotians well.
“He addressed the fundamentals necessary for the population of Nova Scotia to advance,” he said. “I was proud to be part of his administration.”
MacIsaac said his proudest day was in Ottawa where Rodney would not meet with Prime Minister Harper until he agreed to honour the offshore accord that Premier Hamm had negotiated.
“Rodney, it was a privilege. Thank you,” he concluded.
Former Premier John Hamm recalled being introduced to Rodney by Frank MacInnis in Port Hawkesbury as a “young man who might run for us,”
They spoke for five minutes.
“He’s my man, and he’s still my man,” said Hamm.
Hamm said Rodney excelled in all of his portfolios and made the most of his three and a half years as a premier.
He said his legacy includes a young mother in a pharmacy tonight getting medicine for her youngster who has the flu.
“She doesn’t know Rodney, but we know why she can afford it,” he said.
“Rodney is truly a red Tory – and when people look back they will say that was a great administration,” Hamm added. “We’ll be hearing a lot more from him in the future.”
Suzanne Sawler presented Rodney with a plaque in honour of his dedication to the people of the area, saying his legacy is the strength of our communities.
Rodney said he was overwhelmed.
To Hamm he said, “You’ll always be my premier.”
He thanked everyone who gave him advice over the years.
“I feel good about what we were able to accomplish in the county,” he said, pointing to the cooperation he enjoyed with Cuzner, Wardens A.J. MacDougall and Duart MacAulay and Mayor Billy Joe MacLean.
“We did it together,” he said.
Rodney thanked Laurie Ann and his son Ryan, his family, his Inverness team and provincial team, the fairness of the local media, former MLAs Charlie MacArthur, Charlie MacDonald, Danny Graham, Billy Joe MacLean, John Archie MacKenzie, Bill MacEachern, and all the candidates who put their names on the ballot.
He said the riding is in good hands with Allan MacMaster.
Rodney said his administration made “a few mistakes,” and he asked Darrell Dexter’s NDP government to restore the arena revitalization program.
“Dexter, is a friend and I wish him well,” he said. “If they do well then Nova Scotia does well.”
“I’ll always be proud to say that I was the MLA for this county, and remember, please call me Rodney,” he concluded.

From the Inverness Oran

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