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Former New Brunswick premier Ray Frenette remembered as an ‘inspiration’

Former New Brunswick premier Ray Frenette remembered as an ‘inspiration’
WATCH ABOVE: Former New Brunswick premier Ray Frenette died on Friday at the age 83. As Todd Veinotte reports, he leaves behind a legacy of tenacity and an unwavering commitment to the province.

Former New Brunswick Liberal Premier Ray Frenette leaves behind a legacy of tenacity and an unwavering commitment to the province.

Frenette died on Friday at the age of 83.

He represented the riding of Moncton-East for 25 years, holding numerous cabinet posts along the way.

He served as Frank McKenna’s deputy premier and house leader and became the province’s 28th premier when McKenna stepped down in in 1997.

READ MORE: Former N.B. premier Ray Frenette dead at 83

Victor Boudreau spent 14 years as a Liberal MLA.

He says Frenette was an inspiration.

“As a young Liberal and then as an EA working for a minister at the time, just being around him was something special because he commanded respect,” says Boudreau.

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“He was very knowledgeable, very resourceful and quite a thing to see in the legislature.”

Boudreau said one of his favourite Frenette stories took place inside the legislature.

“Because he spoke with such authority, he would get up in the legislature and command so much respect. He once got up on a point of order and was supposedly quoting the rule book yet he was holding the rule book upside down. I don’t think either the speaker or the opposition parties noticed it at the time, but a few of his collegues did and that went on to be a great Ray Frenette story.”

READ MORE: Former New Brunswick MP Keith Ashfield dies at 66

Frenette battled McKenna for the Liberal leadership in 1985.

Greg Marquis, history professor at the University of New Brunswick – Saint John, says it was a heated affair at times.

“It was quite a bitter leadership campaign in 1985,” Marquis said. “Frenette had a lot of support from Arcadian delegates. McKenna’s French was not that great, and McKenna only had three years experience as an MLA so it was a bit of a bitter campaign.”

Marquis says despite the bad blood, Frenette accepted his role, going on to be hugely influential in the McKenna government.

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Meanwhile, Boudreau says even in the last few weeks of his life, Frenette remained politically involved, attending Liberal events and offering advice.