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					    G L P                             J        O     U        R        N        A        L

Discovering a passion for politics
BY DAVID SMITH

The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.



Q
          uoting this verse from the poem,
          The Ladder of St. Augustine, by
          H.W. Longfellow, PEO Presi-
dent Patrick J. Quinn, P.Eng., concluded
the association’s first-ever campaign col-
lege and encouraged his colleagues to
start the upward climb to greater politi-
cal involvement.
    The event was designed to provide
interested P.Engs with the tools and
required knowledge to get more politi-
cally active.
    “It is right for us, as individuals and
as a profession [to get involved],” Quinn
told the approximately 50 participants.
“We have an obligation to carry our fair       Political rivals Deb Matthews, MPP London North Centre and president of the Ontario Liberal
share of the load in decision making and       Party (left), and Blair McCreadie, president of the PC Party of Ontario, encouraged interested
in governance. [Engineers] are the prac-       engineers to bring their unique experiences and perspectives to the legislative decision-making
                                               tables at PEO’s campaign college event in September.
tical appliers of science, involved in every
axiom of design, manufacture and con-
struction, and we can bring to the
decision tables all the background and         awareness of PEO and contribute to the               According to Blair McCreadie, pres-
logic of many of the problems that pol-        policy decision-making process.”                  ident, PC Party of Ontario, having more
itics must resolve.”                                                                             professional engineers involved in gov-
    “To make a difference,” he determined,     Why get involved?                                 ernment would not only allow for the
“you have to participate in power and the      With a bachelor of architecture degree,           profession’s view to be heard more
use of power.”                                 Peter Milczyn, councillor, Ward 5 (Eto-           clearly, but could also help to diffuse
    Diane Freeman, P.Eng., PEO Vice            bicoke-Lakeshore), City of Toronto, is            potential issues before they escalate into
President, and herself a candidate for         well versed in the need for professions to        larger problems.
municipal council in Kitchener-Water-          be vocal to politicians and supports PEO’s           “Politics is about long-term rela-
loo, moderated the session. She welcomed       Government Liaison Program.                       tionship building,” he said. “And so,
a diverse group of panelists to discuss the        “Some professions are very vocal–the          those folks who are active working
importance of getting involved in the          legal profession, the medical profession–but      within the party system, whether it be
political process and the avenues avail-       I think, from my own perspective, profes-         as part of a caucus in government or
able to get involved.                          sions such as architecture and engineering        opposition, or assisting the party appa-
    Also chair of the Regional Councillors     are not vocal enough in pursuing both our         ratus, that is going to get you a seat at
Committee that oversees the Govern-            professional interests and the related inter-     the [decision-making] table to make
ment Liaison Program, Freeman said             ests that flow from our professions,” he          sure the perspective of professional engi-
being a part of a self-regulatory regime       said. “[Professional engineers] have a great      neers is heard.
is a privilege granted by policy from leg-     deal to contribute to the development of             “I would think that, for example,
islators and that, as such, “we must           policy and the setting of priorities for all      the benefit of having more engineers in
recognize this partnership to increase         levels of government.”                            the Ontario legislature might have come

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2006                                                                                    ENGINEERING DIMENSIONS           43
                                                            look forward to the October 2007      paign manager, the sign crew, going
                                                            provincial election. Our party also   door-to-door with the candidate.”
                                                            has an open policy development            The determining factor is a strong
                                                            process whereby we solicit input      dedication to a cause close to your heart,
                                                            from party members and stake-         Elliott noted. A champion for people
                                                            holders from across the province to   with special needs, she said: “Everyone
                                                            help share their ideas.”              has a place in politics and those who
                                                                Although unable to attend in      choose to enter must have a pas-
                                                            person, in a subsequent interview     sion...since there can be long hours with
                                                            for a campaign college summary        little money.”
                                                            DVD, Rosario Marchese, NDP                The need for passion about an issue to
                                                            caucus chair and MPP Trinity-         succeed in politics was echoed by many of
                                                            Spadina, offered that anyone with     the panelists, including Omar Alghabra,
                                                            political aspirations should start    P.Eng., MP Mississauga-Erindale.
                                                            by getting involved in the politi-        “I think the most successful way to be
                                                            cal party of their choice.            engaged politically is not to start off by
                                                                “And,” he added, “you’ve got to   picking a party, or picking a government
Peter Milczyn, B. Arch., shared his experiences as a        be a member of the riding associ-     level. It’s actually by defining what issues
City of Toronto municipal councillor (Ward 5,               ation. You’ve got to show that you    you’re interested in,” he said. “It is impor-
Etobicoke-Lakeshore).                                       are a person who has the skills to    tant that you identify issues that you are
                                                            be able to be a candidate. You        passionate about and be able to effec-
into some use when [Municipal Affairs              have to show the riding association that       tively communicate these passions.”
and Housing] Minister [John] Gerret-               you are the person they should back in a           Alghabra perfectly summed up the
sen introduced the amendments to the               nomination fight.”                             intent of the session when he encour-
building code that have, quite frankly,                Christine Elliott, MPP Whitby-Ajax,        aged his professional colleagues to
not understood the jurisdiction of the             said there’s a place for everyone in the       recognize their responsibility to become
Association of Professional Engineers              political process, even if they have no        involved in the federal and provincial
of Ontario.”                                       interest in seeking election.                  legislatures, as well as on city councils,
   Deb Matthews, MPP London North                      “There are lots of ways one could get      saying: “We need people to re-engineer
Centre and president of the Ontario                involved without being the actual can-         these institutions.”
Liberal Party, noted that engineers bring          didate,” she said. “Certainly, there are           Campaign college was held at PEO
a different perspective to the decision-           all kinds of volunteer positions that can      on September 7. A DVD summary, enti-
making table.                                      be served from being a member of the           tled The why and how to get involved in
   “Their training is unique. They’re              riding association, to specific positions      public life, has been created as a training
taught to problem solve. They’re taught            within campaigns–financial officer, cam-       tool and for those who were unable to
to look at issues from a logical,                                                                  attend the event. Copies of the DVD
pragmatic perspective,” she said.                                                                  will be distributed to PEO’s chapters and
                                          Mississauga-Erindale MP Omar Alghabra, P.Eng.,
“And I think that we need more            called on his professional colleagues to re-engineer     made available on the PEO website.
of that, not less of that, in pub-        the institutions of government.
lic life. I think the voice of
engineers has not been heard as
much as it should be. I think                                                                           Engineering for
we’d have better policy if more
engineers were involved in the                                                                        Ontarians Day update
political process.”
                                                                                                     Due to scheduling conflicts, PEO did
How to get involved                                                                                  not hold a second Engineering for
“One of the important things I                                                                       Ontarians Day at Queen’s Park on
think a professional engineer can                                                                    October 23 as had been tentatively
do is get involved in his or her                                                                     reported in the September/October
local riding association,” said                                                                      issue of Engineering Dimensions.
McCreadie. “That local riding                                                                        Instead, the event will be rescheduled
association is really responsible for                                                                to 2007. Keep an eye on this column
doing all the various activities that                                                                and the PEO website for further details.
go into election readiness as we

44      ENGINEERING DIMENSIONS                                                                                            NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2006

				
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