Sunday, October 03, 2010

This Autism Dad Says Thank You Shawn Graham

I had the privilege of meeting NB Liberal leader Shawn Graham several years ago when he was then the  Leader of the Official Opposition Liberals in the New Brunswick legislature. It was a cold Saturday morning in November. It was the second or third of several Saturday morning protests that parents advocating for autism services organized in front of the NB legislature.

I was standing on the steps addressing those present when Shawn Graham, whom I knew only from the media, came striding (Shawn Graham does not walk, he strides.) towards us from a government building adjacent to the legislature, came up and shook my hand. He stood for several minutes talking, asking questions and providing his assurance that he would do everything he could to help our cause, to help autistic children in New Brunswick. I was wearing a parka and several layers of clothing to fend off the bitter cold. Shawn Graham was wearing only a business suit like the one in the accompanying picture and he did not flinch or shiver while speaking to me and discussing autism meaningfully.  I never forgot the impression he left on me.  I am a bit skeptical by nature but this guy struck me as one smart, concerned and tough customer, a guy who would not tell me to my face something he did not mean.   

Throughout the next several years Shawn Graham kept his word, and then some, in helping us fight for a commitment to evidence based preschool and school services.  Shawn appeared at our events while in opposition and he made a commitment ... which he honored in full ... over the opposition of some powerful vested adult interests ... to provide autism training at the UNB-CEL Autism Intervention Training program to 400 Teacher Assistants and Resource Teachers.

New Brunswickers, including political science experts at the CBC,  judged him harshly in the last election campaign.  Anger fouled the political air in our fine province and the political science professors and political leaders alike played the anger card in shouting down the Premier. Competing political leaders is one thing but I don't recall seeing any of the political experts talk about the international recession that affected every country, state and province in the world in assessing the performance of Shawn Graham. Nor do I recall seeing or hearing the  political science experts look at the performance of the Liberal government from the perspective of the promises it  kept or its accomplishments. 

What I do know is that Shawn Graham made promises to help autistic children in New Brunswick. He kept his word and autistic preschoolers and students are the better for it.  This is one father of an autistic 14 year old attending high school here in New Brunswick who knows how much Shawn Graham has done for our autistic children and I say .... thank you Shawn Graham.

Thank you and one more thing please.  Please consider staying on as Leader of the Official Opposition. You have just taken a real good beating in the electoral arena.  But you are a young man of considerable political skill, of integrity, and now with considerable political experience both good and bad.   Although I studied political science and history before attending law school I am no political expert but I believe you are even more qualified now than before to lead the opposition Liberal party and to return to the office of Premier after all the angry voices turn on the current Premier-Elect and his party in the next provincial election.

Regardless of what choices you make Mr. Graham thank you for your contributions to the lives of so many autistic children in New Brunswick including my son Conor.

Harold L. Doherty
Conor's Dad


Mom on a Mission said...

Very well said Harold... and I couldn't agree more!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Shawn from this very grateful family.

Albert & Dawn Bowie
Justin's parents

Tammy said...

It's a great thing when they keep their word. Our children need the support of all politicians.