BROCKVILLE — After 45 years as a public servant at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, Bob Runciman is receiving Ontario’s highest honour – the Order of Ontario.
Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell announced 25 appointments to the 2020 Order of Ontario on New Year’s Day, including Runciman.
“His accomplishments include leading the revitalization of Brockville’s downtown area, initiating a treatment centre for inmates with mental illness, and supporting Ontario through the SARS crisis. Today, he remains a stalwart community volunteer,” said the media release from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.
“When it actually happened, I got emails from friends who said congratulations! So that’s when I asked them how did you hear about this? It was the Lieutenant Governor’s office had announced it Jan. 1,” said Runciman in an interview with CTV News Ottawa.
Runciman sat as a municipal councillor in Brockville from 1972 to 1981. He served as a Member of Provincial Parliament from 1981 to 2010. Runciman held many cabinet posts while the Progressive Conservatives formed goverment, including Solicitor General, Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations, Minister of Economic Development and Trade and Minister of Public Safety and Security. Runciman was also leader of the official opposition from Nov. 1, 2007 to July 1, 2009.
“I was a little controversial at times, especially in my early years in opposition. I had a reputation of people calling me Mad Dog but those were issues I cared deeply about, especially victims of crime,” said Runciman.
“When I was Solicitor General, we brought in the fund to look after the families of police officers, public safety officers who lose their lives in the line of duty. That is a scholarship fund, so it pays for the education of the family members as they move onto college and university,” added Runciman. “Those are the kind of things you have an opportunity to do in public life and I’ve been fortunate to have it happen.”
Runciman also served as a Senator from 2010 to 2017.
CTV News Ottawa’s Nate Vandermeer asked Runciman what are some of the accomplishments he’s most proud of.
“I guess in Brockville was my chairmanship of the neighbourhood improvement program. We made a lot of investments through the urban rule program that was put on a federal, provincial and municipal program,” said Runciman. “Spent millions in the downtown that resulted in a number of little parks being developed and the museum in the historic building.”
Runciman said that while he served at Queen’s Park, he is proud of “lots of things helping average citizens.”
“The restoration of the county courthouse behind us. The bureaucrats wanted to build a new county courthouse in the north-end of the city and I was in cabinet at the time and was able to twist the arm of the Attorney General,” said Runciman. “We ended up investing, I think, it was $15-16 million to restore this and I think it’s one of the most beautiful courthouses in the province.”
Runciman tells CTV News Ottawa he is also proud of his accomplishments outside of office, including receiving the River Keeper of the Year award from an American Environmental Group and being one of the founders of the Brockville Minor Girls Softball Association.
“I’m on a number of volunteer boards, most recently I chaired a group that raised money to rebuild the Five Mile Lighthouse, a historic lighthouse,” said Runciman.
“The last one in the St. Lawrence River that burned down after a lightning strike and we were able to raise money to rebuild the Five Mile Lighthouse and that’s something I am very, very proud of. We raised over $200,000 to make that happen.”
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