TORONTO — Frank Stronach, the founder and chairman of Magna International Inc., the world’s largest auto parts supplier, was the 2010 honoree at the Jewish National Fund’s annual Negev Dinner in Toronto recently.
The Jewish National Fund’s Negev Dinner honoree Frank Stronach and his daughter, Belinda. [Darren Levant photo]
“I am more blessed than honoured that I can make a meaningful contribution to the Jewish National Fund on behalf of Israel,” Stronach told The CJN at the Nov 21 dinner.
In the 62nd tribute dinner book, Stronach wrote that he is pleased he can lend a hand to help raise funds for projects in the Negev. “[These] initiatives [are] designed to encourage settlement and stimulate economic growth,” he wrote.
The money raised at the 2010 Negev Dinner campaign will be directed toward two projects for the people of Halutziot, Israel: the Naveh Entrance Development and the Besor Negev Research and Development Station.
Naveh is the new home of former Gaza Strip residents from Atsmona, who are building a new future in the western Negev.
The Besor Negev Research and Development Station is in the southwestern region of the Negev Desert, where agriculture is one of the main methods of protecting land. The station will play a major role in creating sources of income for the new settlers and encourage people to come to the Negev.
The MC for the evening was Belinda Stronach, the honoree’s daughter. Well-known in her own right, she spoke about her father as a role model, and the importance of being a good person and giving back to the community.
Frank Stronach has served on numerous corporate, government and university boards. He is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Haifa University in Israel, and in 2005, he received the B’nai Brith Canada Award of Merit for distinguished humanitarian service.
He has been inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and won the Richard Ivey School of Business 1997 Business Leader of the Year Award. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1999.
Stronach was born in Weitz, Austria, and immigrated to Canada in 1954 with nothing more than a suitcase, a few hundred dollars and a dream to one day start his own business.
In 1957, with a background in tool and machine engineering, he formed a tool and die company, Multimatic Investments Limited, which subsequently expanded into the production of automotive components. In 1969, Multimatic Investments Limited merged with the Magna Electronics Corporation Limited, and became known as Magna International Inc.
Magna currently employs 74,000 people in 240 manufacturing operations, and has 76 product development and engineering centres in 25 countries.
Regarding Israel and other democracies around the world, he said, “We should not take democracy for granted. We must support democracies everywhere.”
Stronach said that people blame others because things are so bad in their countries. “The key is where there is poverty, it is easy to inflame people. Therefore, you have to put money where there is poverty,” he said.
Lawrence Bloomberg and Michael Harris were the co-chairs of the dinner. Nathan Disenhouse, Jewish National Fund Toronto president, and Josh Cooper, JNF Toronto executive director, presented the JNF citation to Frank Stronach.
The Renanim Youth Singers opened the evening’s program with O Canada, and soloist Samantha Cooper ended the evening with Hatikvah. The dinner’s musical presentations included performances by Jeff Madden, who portrays Franki Valli in the Toronto production of Jersey Boys, and other members of the show’s cast .