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Bacon feted for his service to community, Nova Scotians


AMHERST – A 23-year political career that included a short stint in the premier’s office was recognized here Friday during a tribute dinner for former MLA Roger Bacon.

Former Nova Scotia Premier Roger Bacon was honoured by the Cumberland North PC Association and the community on Friday. Bacon (centre) is shown with dinner co-chairs Stephen Maltby and Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin.

Bacon, who left municipal politics to run for the Progressive Conservatives in 1970, was honoured by the Cumberland North PC Association and several other speakers, including PC Party leader Jamie Baillie, for his commitment to his constituency, the province as well as health care through his chairmanship of the Cumberland Health Care Foundation and the Above and Beyond Campaign that raised more than $7.5 million for the new regional hospital that opened in 2003.

“I appreciate everything that’s been said about me here tonight but I couldn’t have done it without the team that I had working with me,” Bacon said. “I was fortunate to have a great team of organizers, good people and good workers.”

Bacon, who is 89, retired from politics after serving six months as Nova Scotia’s interim premier following the resignation of John Buchanan.

He got his start in politics in 1958 when he was persuaded to run for Cumberland municipal council. He served several terms on county council, including time as deputy warden, before he was asked to run provincially upon the retirement on longtime MLA Dr. Jim Langille.

Bacon held numerous cabinet posts in the Buchanan government, but it was in the agriculture portfolio that the Upper Nappan resident gained the most respect, especially among the farming community.

Bacon’s daughter, Diana, said her father was part of a husband and wife team that had a huge impact on their children’s lives. She paid tribute to Clara, who passed away in 2013.

MP Scott Armstrong said he got to know Bacon very well while running in the 2009 byelection to replace then retiring Independent and former Conservative Bill Casey.

“I learned from Roger what it is to serve people,” Armstrong said. “I could not think of a better mentor for anyone entering politics in this province than Roger Bacon.”

Longtime friend Morris Haugg said Bacon was one of the first individuals he got to know when he moved to Canada from Germany 55 years ago.

“Roger Bacon was at all times the exemplary constituency man. It was never about himself. He knew his people and the people knew him,” Haugg said. “He was at all times approachable and easy to talk to. He was dedicated to the job, whether in opposition or in a series of cabinet positions.”

Haugg, who also read a letter from John Bragg, said Bacon was successful in having bridges built and provincial parks established, while new schools were built in the riding and the sod turned on many industries in Amherst in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. He also played a prominent role in getting provincial support for Amherst’s water supply, the North Tyndal Wellfield.

Blake Daley talked about Bacon’s community work after his political work came to an end, saying how he and Haugg visited him about being the first chairman of the hospital foundation.

Daley said Bacon was much more than a ceremonial chairman and that he was instrumental in raising the community portion of the money needed to build the new hospital.

“We would not have the facility we have today if not for Roger’s hard work and dedication on that project,” Daley said.

Baillie, who read a letter to Bacon from Sen. Buchanan, said the former Cumberland East MLA showed at an early age how much he cared about the community.

“He got elected again and again because he demonstrated that he cared,” said Baillie.

Cape Breton MLA Alfie MacLeod said Bacon showed grace and professionalism in a rough political game. He said the province would be a much better place if there were more people like Bacon.

 

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