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Chris Stockwell, RIP

February 12, 2018

Chris Stockwell was a funny guy, a witty heckler who, as a backbencher, could be passionate and eloquent. He was possibly the most effective Speaker of the provincial Legislature I’ve ever covered.

Why? Because if you want the class to behave, you put the naughtiest kid in charge. The  most disruptive kid knows the rules.  He knows how to break them  – and he’s more likely to hold others to account.

Stockwell was legendary in the Speaker role because he held his own party – Mike Harris’s Tories – to account. During the megacity debate, when the government was amalgamating the six municipalities into what is now Toronto, Stockwell forced the Tories to sit through hours and hours of amendments.

In a majority Parliament, no one person can stop legislation from passing. But they can slow it down. They can force the government to consider what they are doing – over and over again. They can focus media scrutiny on the bill. They can raise red flags.

That’s what Stockwell did. He loved this city and its government – serving as a Metro Councillor before running provincially in 1990.

He was outspoken, but not out of control. He was feisty and funny, while always respecting the Parliamentary tradition. He had a true fire in his belly for the democratic process and wielded the often arcane rules of parliamentary procedure as a sword in its defence.

RIP, Chris. Gone too soon at 60.


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