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tdc's Bob Runciman Interview - "One on One"

Bob Runciman

Robert William "Bob" Runciman (born in Brockville, Ontario) is a veteran Canadian politician and is the currently a member of the Canadian Senate.

He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 1981 provincial election as a Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for Leeds in Eastern Ontario. He was returned in each subsequent provincial election, and  did represent the riding of Leeds—Grenville. Prior to the election of Tim Hudac as Conservative, Bob Runciman was the leader of the official opposition in the Ontario government,

Runciman served as Minister of Government Services from February 8 to May 17, 1985, and as Minister of Consumer Relations from May 17 to June 26, 1985, in the short-lived cabinet of Ontario Premier Frank Miller.

When the Tories returned to power in the 1995 election, Runciman became Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services in the government of Mike Harris, holding the position from June 26, 1995 to June 17, 1999. He championed privately-owned prisons during this period, and was criticized on one occasion for revealing the name of a young offender in the legislature. On June 17, 1999, he was moved to the portfolio of Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, and on February 8, 2001, was named Minister of Economic Development and Trade.
 

On February 25, 2009, tdc's FarmGate Editor and Publisher Joe Lor sent
10 interview questions to Bob Runciman and on April 6th received the answers to those questions.

tdc's FarmGate wanted to find out a little more about the philosophy of this interesting man who
 was born in a small city in Eastern Ontario and has risen to the place of leadership in the
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario and appointed to the Senate of Canada


1. Why did you decide to become a politician?

Influence of my dad - managing editor of newspaper. He was advisor to Liberal & PC politicians, knew politics and issues inside-out and kept all of us informed at the dinner table.

2 . Do you have any inspirational quotation(s) that more or less guide you when you make policy decisions?

No, inspirational people who've served in government - Ronald Reagan & Bill Davis. Ideologically probably poles apart, but both men of great integrity

3. From your bio, I see that you have held many cabinet positions in the Ontario Government, is there any one position that you liked over another and could you tell me why this was important to you personally?

-Solicitor General. I've always had enormous interest in justice issues and fighting for victims of crime

4 . Can you tell our viewers about the most difficult political decisions you have had to make and what
was the outcome of those decisions?

On the eve of the official opening of Ontario's first Strict Discipline facility for Young Offenders, two Young Offenders escaped. I went into office at 3 am in the morning and was under intense pressure to cancel opening and close down facility. The media called it a "boot camp" and there was widespread opposition in certain circles, to its opening. I rejected the advice - opened and had great success, reducing recidivism rates

5 . It is an exception that the leader of the opposition in the Province of Ontario would come from a small city in Eastern Ontario. For what or whom do you contribute your success?

And why have you never wanted to run for the leadership of the Provincial Conservative Party or tried to seek a Federal seat?

Never know for sure, but I think people know I'm a straight shooter, that I will oppose wrongheaded initiatives, even when they came from my own Party (See Suncor) and that I've never forgotten where I came from - small town/rural Ontario - Never felt I was qualified to be Premier and the right opportunity to run federally never occurred

About Ontario Today

6. Eastern Ontario seems to be one of the lost areas of Ontario - Even though it has great agricultural resources;
world class tourism attractions; sustainable energy resources; communications, highways, rail and air infrastructure; easy access to the large markets in the US and an educated and motivated work force - what needs to be done to make this region a world class economic powerhouse?

#1 It has to be a priority for senior governments. We can't do it on our own. My suggestion for an Eastern Ontario Secretariat lodged in the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, would be a start.

7. The are two issues which seem to second on the mind of Ontario residents next to the economy and these are the deteriorating health care system and the poor quality of public education. Would you comment on whether or not the present government is doing a good job on these files and if not what should be done?

Don't believe either file being handled well. Our party is in the process of developing policy thru a grassroots approach & I would encourage people with an interest to get involved.

8. The present recession is certainly on the minds of most of the voters today. Given the fact that the Ontario and Federal Governments has economic stimulus packages,can you comment on if you think they will work, how long will it take before we are "out of the woods", whether or not it will be enough and what addition types of stimulus should be considered so that it never happens again?

Don't possess a crystal ball but I think Ontario is in trouble for some time to come. We will be running significant deficits for the foreseeable future and interest in the debt will choke off worthwhile programs.

9. Believing that you know that the Ontario economy is closely related to that in the United States, are you in favour of the bail out actions of the Obama government and will such actions directly or indirectly act as a positive stimulus for the
Province of Ontario?

Ontario is heavily dependent on access to US markets and I think it's too early to determine the success/failure of the bailouts. Some (AIG) were absolutely necessary but the process is badly flawed (See exec. bonuses)

10. If the US adopts a strong "Buy American" position, what job alternatives besides being part of the US, are for people who want to remain to live in Ontario?

I don't believe the US under Obama is going to go into a protectionist shell. NAFTA and other trade agreements may be re-jigged, but this is a free trade administration.
 


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