McGUINTY, Dalton

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Chancellor:

Everyone knows that our university, like all others, is a non-partisan institution, and that it has to maintain its neutrality when it comes to dealing with elected officials.

Still, in this exceptional instance, we could be forgiven for saying that there’s a special bond that connects all of us in the University of Ottawa community to the individual being honoured this morning.

First, because he’s a native son, and proud of it. Dalton McGuinty was born and raised in Ottawa, and this city’s distinctive personality helped shape his own. He has brought a unique Ottawa perspective to his work as an MPP and as Premier of Ontario, and many would probably tell you he's been a truly effective public servant because of it.

Second, we are linked by a lifelong commitment to the bilingual character of our city, of our province, and of our country. Dalton McGuinty has embraced Canada’s two official languages from day one.

Cet engagement est si bien ancré en lui qu’il transparaît dans ses choix –  ses enfants sont inscrits dans des programmes d’immersion en français, par exemple. Non, Dalton McGuinty ne s’est pas borné à reconnaître le fait français en Ontario, il le vit au quotidien.

Enfin, et chose plus importante encore, des liens très étroits unissent l’Université d’Ottawa et le premier ministre de l’Ontario. Dalton McGuinty est un de nos anciens, de même que son frère et collègue en politique, David. Leur père, aujourd’hui décédé, a enseigné la littérature anglaise à notre université. Savoir que l’Université d’Ottawa vit dans la mémoire collective de la famille McGuinty est, assurément, une source de vive fierté pour notre établissement.

In watching his political career take flight, we’ve seen the driving forces of diligence and decency, of focus and resolve… a resolve to get the job done.

In a world that’s awash with garishness and grandstanding, Dalton McGuinty has always distinguished himself as the one who goes about his business with quiet fortitude, not fanfare. Chest-pounding isn’t part of his repertoire; letting results speak for themselves is.

Because of that, he’s usually been underestimated by political pundits and opponents alike. And so, all along Dalton McGuinty’s road to the premiership, you’ll find sceptics scratching their heads. There’s really no mystery, though. Over time, flamboyance is no match for substance.

En 1996, rares sont les personnes qui osent prédire sa victoire dans la course à la direction du Parti libéral de l’Ontario. Pourtant, c’est lui qui l’emporte. Le dernier tour de scrutin est déterminant, et c’est la ténacité et la profondeur de Dalton McGuinty qui lui ont valu de triompher.

L’épreuve suivante se présente avec la campagne électorale provinciale de 1999. Malgré une augmentation tant du vote populaire en sa faveur que du nombre de députés à la Chambre, le parti de Dalton McGuinty ne fait pas le poids et subit la défaite.

L’échec est une rude école, mais c’est une excellente école pour qui sait en tirer des leçons. Or Dalton McGuinty était on ne peut plus à l’écoute et, à nouveau, sans fanfare ni trompettes, il a mis en pratique les leçons apprises en 1999 afin de se préparer à l’élection suivante… et à la victoire.

Depuis son accession au pouvoir, en 2003, le gouvernement de Monsieur McGuinty a été confronté à des défis tout neufs et a traversé des situations inédites. Et, chose certaine, ce n’est pas fini, car ainsi va la démocratie. Chaque obstacle surmonté est gage de réalisations inespérées.

For the sake of brevity, let's focus on just one of the McGuinty government's achievements: its record on education.

There's no denying it: Premier McGuinty’s government has made excellence in education a definite priority, and this year’s budget drove that point home. And when I say excellence in education, I mean at every level: elementary, secondary, post-secondary, skills training, and literacy.

For anyone who’s worked in academia for many years, and who's seen how good schools, good universities and good teachers can transform lives, there's really only one thing to say about this focus on education: A+.

And certainly, the University is speaking for many when it wishes the government success in its efforts to strengthen and invigorate Ontario’s education system. Because who can deny that success in education means success for society... in this case, our society.

Chancellor, it is for these reasons that, in the name of the Senate of the University of Ottawa, we present to you, for the degree of Doctor of the University, Dalton McGuinty, a committed public servant, a champion of education, a man of decency and integrity, a native son of Ottawa who has never let the peak of political power make him lose touch with his roots.

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