By: The Daily Gleaner Editorial
Some people have a talent for getting things done. They know how to mobilize people and get the best out of them — all for the right reasons.
Andy Scott is just that sort of person. Our Fredericton MP from 1993 to 2008, and cabinet minister during part of that time, was honoured for that talent this week as New Brunswick’s inaugural Learning Champion.
Specifically, his work as an advocate of lifelong training and human development, and his desire and ability to improve literacy and education in this province were recognized by the New Brunswick legislature. The announcement was met with unanimous applause bursting forth from both sides of the house.
“He has contributed to policy, social change and to human rights. He has touched hundreds of people as a mentor, myself included,” said Education Minister Jody Carr.
“He is involved with First Nation rights, linguistic rights, persons with disabilities, poverty and same-sex rights. He has pushed the envelope each time.”
Whatever methods he used to push, he did it with a gentle hand.
“If you put faith in people, they will respond,” he said at his retirement, adding that his political style was simply doing what he believed was right.
The award and all the kind words in the legislature were overshadowed by the fact that Scott could not be there to accept it. He is too sick, fighting cancer, so both Carr and Premier David Alward visited him.
At 58, Scott has had a lot of amazing experiences and opportunities that he never thought, as a kid, would have happened to him. He addressed the United Nations in New York City; he met former South African president Nelson Mandela; and he marched into history during the 1995 Unity Rally in Montreal on the eve of the referendum campaign that the no side narrowly won, keeping Canada whole.
Scott also worked on the Kelowna Accord that was supposed to improve the lives of aboriginal people in Canada, but it was sidelined when the Harper government came to power.
His was the tie-breaking vote as a committee chair in Parliament that led the way to same-sex marriage in Canada. Truly he has been a participant in some pretty impressive events in Canada’s recent history.
His ability as a consensus builder — to bring people together around the same table for the common good — was rare and admired. He could appeal to people on a human level, not a political level.
But that’s not what he wanted to talk about when he retired in 2007. Instead, he wanted to say thank you.
“At the end of the day, my sense as I retire is one of gratitude to the people of Fredericton,” he said at the time. “It’s been an incredible opportunity.”
It is this community, Mr. Scott, who should be saying thank you. So that is what we want to say to you today — thank you for being the sort of politician we can truly admire and applaud.