By: Surjit Singh Flora
City of Brampton present former premier Bill Davis with the “key to the city” on Nov. 25.2019
The “Key to the City” is a symbolic honour that a municipality bestows upon a highly valued member of the community or a celebrated or dignified guest of the City of Brampton who has made an impact on the lives of the residents of the city. It is the City of Brampton’s most prestigious award and is presented at the discretion of the Mayor.
Also, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, Kathleen Davis and former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, Toronto Mayor John Tory, Neil Davis, retired journalist Robert Fisher, emcee Maria Britto, Michael “Pinball” Clemons and former MP John McDermid special speakers were on hand to the whole history of Hon. Davis.
A celebratory vehicle procession carried from the former premier Bill Davis residence downtown Brampton home to the Rose Theatre for the ceremony. As soon he arrives at the Rose Theater tributes from Davis’s former colleagues and admirers, along with a drumming ceremony by the Peel Aboriginal Network and live music performed by the Jazz Mechanics Trio to inside.
Bill Davis set the standard for decency and character and was ahead of his times. Despite leaving office in 1985, his voice and courage and his heart still echoes in the city,” Mayor Patrick Brown said. “It was long overdue, and I think there is a real eagerness in the city to celebrate his contributions.”
“Public transit, education, Davis is a fighter for human rights. If you think about it, those were things that didn’t become part of the political mainstream until really after he became premier,” Tory said. Tory, who began his own political career as a staffer for Davis at Queen’s Also said,” When Davis became an MPP, Brampton’s population was barely 10,000 people. “We need more Bill Davies. The message sent should be that there is strength in working together and respecting minorities and those who are struggling,” Tory added.
But throughout his long political career, Davis would always invoke Canada’s ninth largest city, his hometown for more than 60 years. It was often said any Davis speech would have to invoke ‘Brampton’ at least three times. “Brampton Bill has taught me about how to be collaborative around the council table,” Brown added, bringing up Davis’ early life, political career and work in education. The mayor often spoke of Davis as being his personal political model and how his style of moderation and inclusiveness was sorely missing in today’s political discussion.
Former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, who often clashed with Davis during the negotiations on forming regional government in the 1970s, echoed those sentiments and “thanked” the former premier for “giving her” the opportunity to become Mississauga mayor. McCallion was the mayor of what was then the town of Streetsville which was amalgamated into the new City of Mississauga in 1974.
Davis, who is known for Whitty sarcasm in his many speeches, said he enjoyed knowing Brown for the last two years as the mayor often sought his advice on various issues and looked forward to seeing him become a federal MP again and then prime minister.
William (Bill) Grenville Davis served as the minister of education from 1962-1971 and as the premier of Ontario from 1971-1985. During his time as minister of education, he opened both Brock University and Trent University, established 22 community colleges and the TVOntario network in 1970. As premier, he expanded Ontario’s human right code, granted free education to Catholic Secondary School students and helped finalize the 1982 Constitution Act.
Davis has received more than 18 honorary degrees from various institutions throughout Ontario and abroad. Today, he continues to aid in charitable work and advocate for education.
Davis was the Progressive Conservative premier of Ontario from 1971 to 1985. He was first elected as MPP from the then riding of Peel, (and later Brampton) in 1959, and became the province’s youngest Education Minister in 1962.
Finally, after the long speeches Tributes and accolades poured in from various dignitaries for one of Brampton’s most famous citizens as Mayor Patrick Brown presented former Ontario premier Bill Davis.