Speaking of the political principle
The Hon. Dave Levac, Ed'77, now MPP and Speaker of the Ontario Legislature, calls upon his teaching background to make a difference in public service.
Community service has always been a top priority for Brant MPP and Speaker of the Ontario Legislature Dave Levac, Ed’77 — something that encouraged him to turn to politics after 12 years in the classroom and 10 years as a school principal. It was a cumulative thing. “As a teacher I was able to have an impact upon kids in my class,” he says. “As a principal I could reach out to kids, teachers, and parents in the community. And as an MPP, I have the opportunity to make a difference for the whole riding.” And, some would argue, for the whole province, if he can manage to sustain order in one of the most contentious Question Periods among current provincial governments.
Dave has taken lessons learned from each stage of his career onto the next and finds that his experience as an educator helps him in his work as Speaker, although he acknowledges, a little ruefully, that adults can be less open to change than children.
Dave’s role as Speaker at the provincial level echoes that of fellow Queen’s alumnus Peter Milliken, Arts’67, at the federal level. While the two haven’t had a chance to speak in person, Dave has read Peter’s definitive essays about the Speaker’s role and watched him in action before, during, and after his own hotly contested election as Speaker.
While any new job presents early challenges and a steep learning curve, the Hon. Dave notes that he’s been offered great support from the Queen’s Park Clerk and table staff, Human Resources, Protocol, and Security, all of whom are helping him to “find my legs.” His own staff have been very supportive, too, as have his legislature colleagues of all parties, who, Dave says, understand his non-partisan role and are respectful of his desire to be the best Speaker he can be.
“The Members are the key to making the place work the way the people want us to,” he says. “We are all just representatives; the Legislature is really the people’s place!”