The OLIP Interns had the pleasure of meeting with Senator Tony Dean and his Parliamentary Affairs Advisor, Lauren Thomas. Senator Dean began his career in Birmingham, England as a millwright at Dunlop Tires. However, he quickly found that his skills and career interests lay elsewhere and applied to McMaster University. As people who are just starting their careers, it is always inspiring to hear about changing careers paths and the importance of following your interests, even if it means taking risks.
Before sitting in the Senate, Senator Dean served as Secretary of the Cabinet in Ontario. He began his time in the Ontario Public Service as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Labour under Premier Peterson. Despite never thinking he would ever head the Ontario Public Service, he was appointed Secretary of Cabinet in 2003 by Premier Ernie Eves.
During our meeting, Senator Dean talked about the process of removing strong partisan influence from the Senate and his role as a member of the Independent Senators Group. He is passionate about ensuring that evidence takes centre stage in debates on policy. He credits his background as a non-partisan public servant in helping him greatly in this work.
In his time as a Senator, Mr. Dean has worked on several interesting files, including cannabis legislation and medical assistance in dying. However, he says internal changes to the Senate have also been important, like the creation of anti-harassment policies to protect Senate staff as well as making progress on diversity and inclusion.
Despite seeing progress from his perspective, he believes that there is still a need for continued reform in the Senate to build a modern and less-partisan Senate that is more responsive to the needs of Senators, employees, and the public.
Thank you to Senator Dean and Lauren for taking the time to talk to us and for graciously answering all our questions!