R.B. Bennett Statue: Jordan Grondin, New Brunswick Teen, Wants To Immortalize Former Conservative PM
What started as a project for a county fair now has a home-schooled New Brunswick teen talking with MP's and the family of a former prime minister to erect a statue in honour of R.B. Bennett on Parliament Hill.
And Jordan Grondin, 16, is drawing closer to his goal. In fact, he's confident that with a Conservative majority, a bill to build a statue may make it into the House of Commons sometime next year.
It all started in 2010 when Grondin, of Albert County, submitted a project about the former Conservative prime minister into a heritage fair in New Brunswick.
The teen admired Bennett's work and was surprised to find he is not immortalized in Canada's capital.
The young history buff also found that a Bennett statue was, in fact, ordered in the early 1970s, but the design was reportedly rejected as unsuitable for a national monument and the idea was abandoned.
In his time as prime minister from 1930 to 1935, Bennett promoted the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, health care and the regulation of banks. He signed the Statute of Westminster, making Canada fully independent from Great Britain in its decisions. He also founded the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission (later the CBC) and the Bank of Canada.
Grondin believes these accomplishments are largely overshadowed.
"It's a necessity to put him up on Parliament Hill so future generations remember what R.B. Bennett did," said Grondin in a phone interview last week.
So Grondin grabbed a pen and paper and started to collect signatures to support having a statue erected.
"I started going to public events throughout the province, like markets, museums and fairs collecting signatures," said Grondin, mentioning Bennett was born and raised a few kilometres away from his home.
Four months later, Grondin had 1000 names scribbled down and began calling local politicians.
In late November, New Brunswick-Southwest MP John Williamson spoke in Parliament about the initiative.
"The time for a statue of R.B. Bennett is now," he said in a member statement.
"Some prime ministers have provided the leadership that makes our country great. One such leader was the right honourable Richard Bedford Bennett."
And Williamson isn't the only one on Grondin's side. The teen has received nods from all major parties - both provincially and federally - and even members of the Bennett family.
"His family was very pleased that someone outside of the Bennett family, that has no relation to them, has come up and done this," said Grondin, who aspires to be a politician. "They're pleased with the process and they feel it's a great honour for someone my age to be doing this."
Now, Grondin and about 12 others who are working with him on the campaign are patiently waiting for an MP to bring the cause into the House.
He said having the stone figure erected in on Parliament Hill will not only commemorate a former prime minister but will also show that "age is not a barrier."
"You have to have patience, and you have to be persistent. You just can't let something little take you down, you just have keep pushing and break down some barriers that seem impossible."