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Runciman Interview - "One on One"
Robert William "Bob" Runciman
(born in Brockville, Ontario) is a veteran Canadian
politician and is the currently a retired member of the Canadian
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
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
About Ontario Today
6. Eastern Ontario seems to be one of the lost areas of
Ontario - Even though it has great agricultural
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
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