Tuesday 16 June 2020

Remembering Stuart Smith; remembering Jack Scott

                                   Remembering Stuart Smith

I first met Stuart  in 1961, during an ill fated (some might say disastrous) run I made to become the President of the Canadian University Liberal Federation.  Stuart was active in the McGill Liberal Club and I was fortunate enough to have his support.  Much as I appreciate that, I don't recall seeing him again until he was elected to the Ontario legislature in 1975 when it became my turn to support him.

The 1975 election had been going very well for the Liberals until a very disastrous debate occurred on television which had Premier Bill Davis and Liberal leader Bob Nixon shouting at each other.  NDP leader Stephen Lewis picked up the pieces and what might've been a Liberal majority became a Progressive Conservative minority with the Liberals falling to third place.  The Liberals remained a party of Southwestern Ontario.  One of the few bright spots was Stuart's unexpected victory in Hamilton West.

To have Stuart as a leader seemed to be a blessing and I, for one, was anxious that it happen.  In the 1976 election he became Opposition Leader.  Then, it seemed to be the case that we might be ready for who would have been a very great Premier.  Locally, the campaign seem to be going well.  John English and I ran the campaign in Kitchener and always felt very good about what was going to happen across the whole province.  It didn't.

Stuart went on to a number of different roles in life.  I am proud of the fact that he did not try to continue to be a politician, although that meant that I never had a chance to really work with him.  He knew when his time had come and and when it had gone.  Eventually, in 1985, we were able to sweep many urban ridings with David Peterson as our leader and form a government.  I was fortunate enough to be among those who were elected at that time.  I think we all should be grateful for Stuart in that he paved the way.

Stuart died a few days ago.  He was eighty-two.

                                  Remembering Jack Scott

Jack played a very different role in my life.  From the early 70s, he owned the cottage next to mine at Skootamatta Lake.  Over the course of several decades, what started as a rather tense relationship grew to be a warm and loving one. 

Jack and Louise bought their cottage when their four children were young.  At the time, they closed a small store they ran in Roblin Ontario and Jack took early retirement from the Ontario Provincial Police.  It may have been his occupation that made things a little tense at first but, eventually, we got to be best friends – and choral buddies (especially after a couple of rye and cokes).

Jack was the salt of the earth.  He and Louise moved to the cottage and made it their permanent residence in retirement.  This was a godsend to me as he proceeded to look after my cottage in my absence.  Even into his 70s, he thought nothing of jumping up on my roof if he thought that was needed.

It is hard to believe that this happened in Ontario in my generation, but Jack went to a one room school north of Napanee with a stove in the middle of the room to heat it.  He had one teacher for all eight grades.  In other words, she was the only teacher he ever had.  To quote Jack," I think she liked me". After grade 8 he went to work on his father's farm. Jack knew a lot about life and lived it with a very strong moral code- completely devoid of prejudices.

Jack was eighty-eight when he died a few days ago.

May Stuart and Jack both rest in peace..

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