When a really good opportunity comes along, you grab it. That's how I got into the world of public service. And, now, it's why I'm taking my leave.
In 1995, I had the opportunity to run for the PC Party in Niagara South. I ran because I believed the province desperately needed change and I wanted to make a difference.
Every step along the way, I have been guided by a clear sense of purpose: smaller, more focused government, a strong economy and greater opportunity for all.
It was an honour to serve in the Cabinet of Premier Mike Harris, the most courageous and effective Premier Canada has seen in a lifetime. We made the long overdue decisions to balance the budget; we paid down debt and we lowered taxes. As a result, Ontario led North America in private sector job creation.
In 2009, I was thrilled to be chosen by PC members to lead our great party and I promised leadership founded on those same principles. I’m proud that we put forward an honest, bold plan that would right-size government, spur our economy and help the most vulnerable among us.
Now I have an exciting new opportunity before me and a renewed purpose. I have been asked to be the next CEO of the Ontario Real Estate Association, Canada’s largest provincial industry association with more than 64,000 members and 40 local associations.
There is a lot of work ahead of us to help make home ownership more affordable and to increase housing supply and choices, but I look forward to the challenge.
These past 21 years have been tremendously rewarding and I will miss my colleagues in all three parties. Our parliamentary democracy exists to emphasize our differences, but our common commitment to building a better Ontario is what truly unites us. I want to thank all of them, past and present, for their friendship, leadership and advice.
The secret of success in politics is loyal and smart staff. After 21 years that adds up to a lot of people! I thank them all.
Most importantly, I want to thank the people of Niagara who have given me the honour to serve in six consecutive elections. There is no greater joy in this business than to be chosen to be the voice of the most beautiful part of the province filled with generous, hard working people who have an infectious streak of independence.
I entered public life as a young, single 27 year old. And while I am immensely proud of that, the best part of Queen’s Park was meeting my wife, Debbie. Twenty-one years later, I leave as an incredibly fortunate father of two beautiful girls, Miller and Maitland. I cannot thank my family enough for their support and love.
I will be resigning my seat on September 16. My last official duty will be to say thank you to local residents for their trust in me at my favourite local event, my Annual Chicken and Ribs Community BBQ on September 15.
I now look forward to the exciting new mission ahead.