Consumer services

MLA Walker is not running for election

Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Energy, speaks from Queen’s Park on December 22, 2020. (Twitter Photo)

The MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, Progressive Conservative MP Bill Walker, has announced that he will not run again.

Walker announced the decision in a statement released late Friday evening:

To the people of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound,

Today, after dedicating the last 10 years of my life as MLA for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound and with mixed emotions, I officially announce that I will not be running for re-election in June 2022.

Serving as a provincial deputy (member of the provincial parliament) has truly been an honor over the past decade and I am proud of what my team and colleagues have been able to accomplish during this time. I remain a strong supporter of Premier Ford, the government and their vision for the province.

It has been the challenge of my life and I have truly enjoyed the challenges, the accomplishments and every experience. It has not been without anxiety, turbulence and stress, especially during the (hopefully) unique Covid-19 pandemic. However, I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to have served in public service at such critical times and am grateful to have had the opportunity to represent and lead as your elected representative.

Having served seven years in opposition, learning how government works, holding government accountable and trying to find ways to collaborate, negotiate and compromise while building relationships and moving our province forward. And over the past four years as a member of government trying to make a difference and our communities and our province as best they can be, I feel like I’ve made a difference and I’m at peace with my decision to to retire. Both sides of government have been rewarding and a huge opportunity to learn what it means to be a public servant.

While in opposition, I had the honor of serving as critic for community and social services, seniors and accessibility, long-term care, and I served as nuclear caucus chair throughout my tenure.

In government, I have had the honor of serving as Chief Government Whip, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Associate Minister of Energy and, most recently, Vice President. All were rewarding!

Much has been accomplished, both locally and provincially, during my tenure. Locally, Markdale Hospital is finally under construction, and this is a highlight as it had been promised many times by the previous government and I vowed to myself when elected to make it a reality. Five (5) new long-term care facilities, three (3) new schools, three (3) new child care centers and hundreds of millions of dollars for health care, social services, sports and community services have been granted to our region through capital funding programs and the Ontario Trillium Foundation program, of which I am a strong supporter. It is with great pride that I can say that over $380 million in funding has been allocated to BGOS in the past four years since we formed government, and every dollar invested will have a positive impact on the lives of residents and guests for many years into the future.

It has been very rewarding and truly the culmination of any effort, when my team and I have been able to help someone locally, for example, helping to reinstate a driver’s license, access a service or program, or to secure additional funding for those in need. These are the programs and services that impact people’s daily lives, and the “victories” that will always be dearest to me in terms of my ability to serve people.

Provincially, while there is still a lot of work to do, we have made improvements in most ministries and tried to improve service levels, capacity and program efficiency for the benefit of population, we launched historic infrastructure funding in the areas of broadband (cellular and internet), transportation (bridges and roads), environment (water and sewer), increased funding in the areas of mental health, hospitals and long-term care, as well as social services, seniors and palliative care, and made a number of policy changes to support our agriculture industry. And we did all of this while showing leadership in the worst pandemic in our province’s history.

My goal has always been to provide a balanced approach to every issue, to listen to people on all sides of every issue and be their collective voice, and to give all my energy to the best of my ability, with the goal overall to make our community and our province a better place. I gave it my all, an ‘Energizer Billy’ commitment of my energy and total dedication, and I’m proud of what I was able to help accomplish, with the help and commitment of many people.

As I have always said, my success is the result of the support I have received and a team approach, and locally a “Team Walker” effort. I extend my thanks to the families and teams in my riding and in Queen’s Park; members of the public service at all levels and especially those who served with me when I was a Cabinet Minister; the leaders (Tim Hudak, Patrick Brown, Jim Wilson and Vic Fedeli) and colleagues with whom I served in opposition, as well as Premier Ford and my caucus and Cabinet colleagues; MPPs from other parties and their staff, many of whom I have formed friendships with and look forward to continuing in the future; the people who work in all areas at Queen’s Park (I have always enjoyed my interactions with everyone who works in government); and the many individuals – leaders, employees and volunteers from the myriad of stakeholder organizations, charities, non-profits, other levels of government and businesses who contributed their dedication, both in opposition and in support of the government at Queen’s Park. I am in awe of everyone who actively participates in our democracy and in their respective communities and areas of interest.

I express a special and sincere appreciation to my family (Michaela, Zach and Ben), my extended family of siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, and my many friends, members of the executive of the riding association (and their families for sacrificing their precious family time to allow them to engage with me and the cause) and the volunteers, donors and constituents, who have supported me every step of the way, and m allowed me to devote my energy to this noble profession over the past 10 years.

To the incredible people of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound who gave me the opportunity to represent you for three terms at Queen’s Park and at home, I offer my sincere appreciation and want you to know that I will always be grateful and humble. I will always keep this moment dear to myself, and I hope people will know that I did my best to earn your trust and respect, and to serve your needs and interests to the best of my ability.

Thank you for the privilege and honor of serving you, and good luck to the next MPP who will be chosen by the people to lead Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound into the future. Now is the time for someone else to bring their skills and energy to this role, but please know that I will continue to work hard for my constituents until the end of my term. And rest assured that I will always do what I can to make our community, our province and our country the best it can be.