We had the honour of meeting with David Warner, who served as Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 1995. Mr. Warner now sits on the governing body of the Ontario Association of Former Parliamentarians.
Prior to becoming Speaker, Mr. Warner hosted three OLIP interns starting with the very first cohort in 1975, so we thank Mr. Warner for his decades of support for our programme.
Before 1990, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly was appointed by the government, and Mr. Warner was the first Speaker to be elected by secret ballot by his peers. Upon his election, Mr. Warner wrote down ten goals he wanted to accomplish during his time in the role to maintain the trust of his fellow members. He proudly discussed this list and his priorities as Speaker with us.
Firstly, he pursued better relations with the province of Quebec, and was key in forming the Ontario-Quebec Parliamentary Association. He discussed how this relationship helped both provinces find resolutions to issues quickly and effectively.
Secondly, he wanted to make Indigenous people feel welcome at Queen’s Park. In partnership with the Ombudsman at the time, Mr. Warner curated the first ever contemporary Indigenous art exhibits at Queen’s Park. During our time at Queen’s Park, we have had the pleasure of viewing exhibits at the precinct that feature art from artists from diverse backgrounds and are thankful for Mr. Warner’s leadership in this initiative.
Thirdly, Mr. Warner discussed his goal to increase the learning opportunities in the Legislative Assembly. As a teacher prior to entering politics, Mr. Warner was inspired to utilize his time as Speaker to establish a tri-partisan literacy committee that had MPPs read to visiting students, highlighting the importance of literacy and democracy to children. As Mr. Warner spoke of his goals, we were reminded of the value of relationship-building, listening, and learning from our mentors during our time in OLIP.
Finally, Mr. Warner provided us with some advice that helped him during his time as Speaker. He urged us to approach new situations as if we are only limited on time and imagination. As our year with OLIP quickly passes by, we are grateful to have this reminder not to take any opportunity for granted and to remain imaginative and curious in all situations.
We would like to thank Mr. Warner for such an energizing conversation!