Friday, February 9, 2007

renaming Halifax airport for Stanfield

PM presides over renaming of Halifax airport for Robert L. Stanfield
February 9th, 2007

Prime Minister Stephen Harper travelled to Halifax on Friday to officially rename the city's airport after former Nova Scotia premier Robert L. Stanfield.

Harper said Stanfield, who was also leader of the federal Conservative party from 1967 to 1976, was a man who "set the standard for dignity and civility" in Parliament. "Robert Stanfield was a man of quiet dignity, a gentleman in every sense of the word," Harper told a small crowd inside the airport's observation deck.

"He inspired people, not with grand schemes or fiery rhetoric, but with practical ideas and fundamental decency."

Stanfield, famous for his self-deprecating wit and lack of egotism, died in 2003.

In 2005, the airport authority renamed the terminal building for Stanfield, but Harper's dedication changes the name of the entire airport.

The airport's new official name is Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport.

The prime minister unveiled the new name with Anne Stanfield, the late leader's widow, to an audience of 125 Tories.

Former Tory premier John Hamm said he grew up in a home that "absolutely revered Mr. Stanfield."

"His government really brought us from a rather isolated part of the world and started with their economic development initiatives into the global picture," he said.

Stanfield created the Industrial Estates development agency, which helped attract Michelin Tire and large pulp and paper mills that remain key elements of the economy in rural Nova Scotia.

"He began the transition to participate in globalization," said Hamm.

However, some critics at the event chafed when they heard Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay compare Harper to Stanfield.

Alexa McDonough, a Halifax-area New Democrat MP, said decisions by the Harper government, such as dumping the former Liberal government's national child-care program, demonstrate a harder brand of conservatism.

"Mr. Stanfield was a very progressive conservative, and that was important to a lot of people in this part of the country," she recalled.

"Harper is going to be hoping for that warm and fuzzy feeling, but people are going to want to see the evidence that actually he's prepared to embrace progressive values."