A Brief Commentary by Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper
Posted August 9th, 2021 on Niagara At Large
I can hardly believe, given what we have experience in this province for leadership in recent decades, and especially now, that I once thought Bill Davis was too conservative.
By today’s standards, he was a progressive liberal. The only leadership in Ontario that matched him on the more progressive were the 10 years (from 1985 to 1995) we had with Liberal Party Premier David Peterson and then NDP Premier Bob Rae (and for a couple of years, a coalition of both) at the helm.
Bill Davis, who led a Conservative Party as the province’s Premier from 1971 to 1985, worked to modernize and generously fund Ontario’s public schools, including its colleges and university – making it possible for virtually any young person to attend college or university without graduating under the burden of massive debts.
A couple of decades ago, when another Conservative Premier – the ultra-right-wing Mike Harris – began taking a meat axe to public education budgets, Bill Davis took out a full-page ad in one of Toronto’s major newspaper, condemning it.
Bill Davis was also the Premier who created Ontario’s Ministry of Environment and set in place environment protection legislation that went a long way toward addressing threats to life-sustaining resources like our Great Lakes.
Way back in the 1970s, when a plan was underway to cut a highway called the Spadina Expressway through the heart of Toronto, Davis killed the plan, saying that he would rather save a city than “sell it to the automobile.”
Could you ever imagine the likes of Ontario’s current Conservative Premier, Doug Ford, saying something like that?
Of course not, because they don’t make Conservatives in this country like Bill Davis anymore.
Doug Draper, Niagara At Large
What follows is a Statement from Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, on the Death of Bill Davis –
August 8, 2021
Ottawa, Ontario – The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today issued the following statement on the death of the Honourable Bill Davis, former Premier of Ontario:
“It is with great sadness that I learned today of the passing of the Honourable William Grenville ‘Bill’ Davis, former Premier of Ontario.
“Mr. Davis spent more than 25 years serving his province and was the second longest serving Premier of Ontario. He led the province for 14 years during a transformative time in its history. As Premier, and as a long-serving Minister of Education, he established TVOntario and oversaw the creation of several new universities and the province’s community college system.
“He will be remembered for putting into place Canada’s first-ever environmental land‑use plan and for his role in the patriation of the Constitution, which resulted in the /Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms/.
“He was a skilled statesman who set aside partisanship and worked with my father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, to bring forward concrete change and uphold our shared values, like diversity and human rights, through the creation of the Charter.
“In recognition of his many accomplishments, Mr. Davis was sworn in as a member of the Queen’s Privy Council of Canada in 1982. He was invested as a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1986 and as a Companion of the Order of Ontario in 1987, and inducted as a Knight in France’s Legion of Honor in 2001.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to Mr. Davis’ family and friends and to all the people of Ontario on the passing of a remarkable leader.”
To watch a CBC report on the life and legacy of Bill Davis, click on the screen below –
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