Kalvin Reid wrote in “Bradley: up from the grassroots: MPP, known as a man with integrity, an honest record and good work ethic, marks 25 years in the legislature”, (St. Catharines Standard, Jun.8, 2002):
“As the 1977 provincial election approached, the Liberals saw an opportunity in St. Catharines. The Tories had a virtual four-decade stranglehold on the riding, but their grip was beginning to weaken.
Incumbent Tory Bob Johnston was leaving politics. Just two years earlier, the Liberals came close while Jim Bradley watched from the sidelines, fighting as a city councillor to build a library.
But Liberal organizers were determined to pull the 33-year-old Grantham Ward councillor out of City Hall and place him in Queen's Park.
"Jim was a well-liked councillor on city council," says Walt Lastewka, the manager of the Liberals' 1977 campaign and now member of Parliament for St. Catharines. "He established a name for himself as a hard worker who never gave up on a project. His work on city council was well known."
Bradley had carried the Liberal banner in two previous unsuccessful attempts to unseat Johnston, in 1967 and 1971.
In many ways, Bradley was viewed as a last hope for the Liberals in St. Catharines. It was said on the night of his nomination that if he didn't win this time, the Tories would never be displaced in St. Catharines.
Nobody had any idea that his victory on June 9 would be the first in a string of seven spanning 25 years. Now, one has to wonder whether Bradley will ever lose his stranglehold on St. Catharines.
Born Feb. 19, 1945 in Sudbury, Bradley relocated to St. Catharines with his working-class family in 1959.
He got his first taste of politics as the president of Grantham High School's student council, where he was also an accomplished public speaker.
Most of his life has been dedicated to public service, but even Bradley himself has a hard time explaining the original source of his political interest.
"We were a typical working-class family," he says. "Nobody else in my family is involved in any significant way in politics outside of my campaigns. It was probably in elementary school, a unit on municipal government. I caught the bug at that time."
In a stunning turn of events in 1967, 21-year-old Bradley, fresh out of teachers' college, captured the provincial Liberal nomination, defeating none less than city alderman and future mayor Mac Chown. Bradley attributes the win to a good gathering of supporters at the nomination meeting.
"Mr. Chown was a highly respected individual in the community," Bradley says. "Lawyer, alderman. Very, very nice gentleman, well liked, well respected."
Interestingly, Bradley's 1981 campaign was managed by Chown. Chown was also the mayor when Bradley was first elected to city council in 1970, using tactics he said he learned from Johnston in the 1967 campaign.
"I learned from him how important it is to have that good grassroots support," Bradley says of the former mayor. "He built that up from the municipal level."
Working for Grantham Ward and teaching at Scottlea School, Bradley steadily built up his municipal resume, serving on a number of local agencies including the St. Catharines Transit Commission, the Public Library Board and the Niagara District Airport Commission.
"In my first encounter with Jim, I quickly found out he was the hardest-working member of city council," says St. Catharines Regional Councillor Michael Collins, who served on city council with Bradley from 1974 to 1977.
With two provincial campaigns under his belt and seven-plus years in municipal politics, Bradley felt by 1977 he had gained what was missing a decade earlier.
"People could look and say, 'Now, he has a record, we see that he has some experience, we better know who the person is,' " Bradley says. "I think that was very helpful.
"But I could never under-emphasize the importance of a good campaign team, which I had municipally and provincially. To this day, I really rely on that campaign team."
As Bradley praises his supporters, they say they had a good candidate with whom to work, a man with integrity, an honest record and a good work ethic.
"He's a real people person," says Ron Cuthbert, president of the St. Catharines provincial Liberal riding association. "He knows almost everybody in the riding."
Cuthbert credits much of Bradley's longevity to the fact he makes himself visible in St. Catharines, attending minor hockey and baseball games, high school commencements and community events.
Even while Bradley's 25th anniversary was being celebrated at a Club Roma dinner late last month, the MPP lamented the fact he had to miss the presentation of the St. Catharines citizen and youth citizen of the year awards.
On top of his visibility is his accessibility.
"Jim is very committed to helping people solve their problems," Cuthbert says. "That's the real essence of Jim. He believes in people and he wants to do what's best for them."
With a unique ability to discuss, at length, the minutiae of almost any issue, Bradley is not backbench material, Cuthbert says.
"When those hands start to move, he's going to be there a while," he says. "He does a lot of research. His office is piled with papers. He works hard to understand an issue, so when he makes a statement, it's solid."
And he's consistent. After winning the Liberal nomination in 1971, he said the government was a "tired, irresponsive, arrogant Conservative government."
He made a similar statement about the current Tory government following May's Throne Speech.
From the beginning, he has been a critic of government spending on advertising and he always holds environmental issues dear, be it staffing at the Ministry of the Environment, the protection of Niagara's grape and tender-fruit lands or the tainted-water tragedy in Walkerton.
It is as the province's environment minister from 1985 to 1990 that Bradley is perhaps best remembered.
From renowned environmentalist Dr. David Suzuki to former premier David Peterson to his own staff, Bradley has been called the best environment minister in the history of the province, even the country.
Gary Gallon, a co-founder of Greenpeace and a senior policy adviser for Bradley when he was in cabinet, describes Bradley as a "Mack truck" in the office, revamping its role and stature and making sweeping changes to provincial policy.
Gallon credits Bradley with 15 pieces of environmental legislation and guidelines over his five years in office, more than any federal or provincial government. They included water pollution control, drinking-water supply protection, legislation banning CFCs and acid rain legislation, as well as the beginning of the blue box recycling program.
But perhaps his greatest success was one not publicly recognized - - a shift in attitudes at what was previously a low-clout junior ministry.
"He came in and said, 'I am changing your culture, and you're going to become a real Ministry of the Environment,' " says Gallon, now president of the Canadian Institute for Business and the Environment.
"Had he continued to be minister, we would not have seen Walkerton. There was a tremendous setback in 1995 of all of his programs."
Bradley picked people like Gallon, known environmentalists, for a reason. He wanted an aggressive staff to implement an aggressive agenda.
"Environment groups were given far more say than they ever had before within realms of government, genuine input," says Bradley, who is currently the party's environment critic. "I remember a Conservative critic once said, 'The problem with Bradley's office is he has too many environmentalists working in it.' I thought that's what it was for."
But his time in the ministry was abbreviated. Not due to go to the polls for another two years, and against Bradley's counsel, Peterson called an early election in 1990 and the Liberals were swept from office. From that point, through an NDP mandate and successive Tory governments, many of the changes brought in by Bradley were undone.
"I'd loved to have seen all the water clean, all the air clean and all the soil clean and our habits change," Bradley says. "The Ministry of the Environment when I got there was a junior ministry with little clout and resources. It needed staffing, funding and morale.
"By the end, there was a turnaround in the ministry. You'd love 10 or 15 years to continue that progress."
Back in opposition, Bradley served a stint as interim party leader in February 1992 and was the party's house leader from 1994 to 1999.
But he never took a shot at the party's top job, despite the widely-held view he is more than qualified for the position.
Bradley says the life of a party leader never appealed to him.
"If you run and you're successful as a leader, you're really taken away from your constituency, you're taken away from your roots," he says. "I admire the people who take on that responsibility."
The current Liberal leader calls Bradley an invaluable asset to the party.
"I can always rely on Jim Bradley for powerful honesty," Dalton McGuinty says. "Jim never shrinks from voicing his opinions, whether they jive with the majority view or they are a strong minority view.
"Bradley is one of those guys who give politicians a good name. The reason he's so successful is he's never forgotten who sent him here and he's never forgotten what he's been sent to do."
With his experience, clout and respect, Bradley maintains a high- profile position within the party.
Should the party follow through on recent poll results and form the next government, McGuinty says there is a cabinet post waiting for Bradley.
If the people will have him, Bradley says he would relish the opportunity to continue representing St. Catharines at Queen's Park.
"That is my plan. I have as much enthusiasm for the job today as when I started out," he says. "I have more experience now, so I know how the system works."
He openly admits to being parochial about St. Catharines, often using veteran parliamentary tricks in the legislature to squeeze in a plug for his city.
During the days of the NDP government, Bradley rose during a discussion on agriculture to express "surprise" the speaker didn't talk about the need for a magnetic resonance imaging machine (MRI) in St. Catharines.
"The Speaker would just roll his eyes, but it's an effective tool," Bradley says. "But I like St. Catharines. The people in St. Catharines have been very good to me."
Looking back on his career, Bradley says celebrating a 25th anniversary in the legislature did not cross his mind in 1977. More important than making it to 2002 was making it past his first attempt at re-election in 1981.
"You have to earn the support of people," he says. "It doesn't come automatically. When you go to the polls, your job is on the line."
JIM BRADLEY ON THE ISSUES:
Environment: "What was really sad for me to see was the virtual dismantling of the Ministry of the Environment. Damaging cuts. It was targeted from the beginning by the present administration. Most people would concede this area was not a high priority. The Ministry of the Environment has to have its staff restored, financial resources and clout restored, then it can deal with the issues."
Education: "The sad part about education is the people on the front lines of the delivery of service, teachers, have been demoralized by constant attacks by the government. You have to build an esprit de corps, build the morale in the teaching profession so when you are making changes, you want the people to be with you when you're doing it."
Health care: "I believe strongly in a publicly-funded, publicly- run health-care system with equal access for all people. It's always nice to think you can do things better, and you can. But nobody should pretend that isn't going to require a significant investment of funds in health care."
Ambulance: "I happen to believe the province should be running ambulance service. But a decision was made to transfer that to local municipalities. If you're going to do that, then you have to transfer funds to go with that, it seems to me, and you have to let them operate it. We have a dispatch service operated by the province somewhere outside of Niagara; we have an ambulance service paid for by the Region inside Niagara and it is chaotic."
Preservation of farmland in Niagara: "Exceedingly important. You can't take away those farmlands then take the buildings and pavement up and start farming again. We have in Niagara a unique climate. You have soils conducive to growing tender fruit, yet day after day we see bulldozers out there bulldozing down the fruit trees and giving us development. Well, if you want to live in that, you go to Mississauga."
Mid-peninsula highway: "A dilemma for me. If you'd asked that 25 years ago, or before the QEW was built, of course you'll say the QEW should have gone where the mid-peninsula corridor would go. It would have preserved an area with unique climatic conditions and soils.... It may have the effect of diminishing pressure in this part of the peninsula for paving over the farmland. On the other hand, you wonder what it will do there."
Hydro One: "Major mistake, in my view, to sell Hydro One. It's comparable to selling all the 400-series highways."
Mike Harris: "I always thought Mike Harris was very much an underrated opponent. I didn't agree with many of his policies, and moreso the approach he took to governing, but he was a formidable opponent. I think people should look back on him as a very formidable politician who worked his way up."”
Jim Bradley doesn't approve of bulldozers giving him development...but Jim approves of using the resultant tax money for Liberal spending schemes.
Gallon gushes: "We would not have seen Walkerton" had Bradley been minister.
What a pantload!
How does Gallon know what the managers entrusted to run the Walkerton water system were doing during Bradley’s term in office?
When Bradley blathers about healthcare and "equal access", it's almost, sadly, laughable to listen to.
Bradley and his Liberals went on, several years after the above interview, to deny Suzanne Aucoin equal access to obtain health care in Canada, forcing her to obtain it in the States, whose system Bradley enjoyed disparaging. Then, Bradley had the audacity to attend Aucoin's memorial and blather about inequities as if he and his Liberals had nothing to do with those inequities in the first place. What a charlatan.
I guess Bradley, his Liberals, and their government-run single-payer health monopoly also have nothing to do with the on going problems, suffering and deaths at the Brampton Civic Hospital, either?
The National Post's Allison Hanes (Jan.3, 2008) reported in "Doctor sorry for wrong-leg surgery":
"The chief of staff at Brampton’s embattled new hospital has apologized to a 72-year-old grandmother whose Christmas Day surgery to repair a broken thigh was allegedly botched when the doctor cut into the wrong leg, her family says.
The doctor, who sliced open Amar Kaur Brar’s right leg when he should have cut into her left, has also expressed his regret.
The apologies came after the family filed a formal complaint with the Brampton Civic Hospital ombudsman over the incident, which 21-year-old Kanwaljot Brar said has left her formerly spry grandmother in serious pain and incapacitated as she recovers not only from a broken bone but incisions on both legs.
“Before they didn’t apologize. Now they have apologized,” she said. “They do the mistake and after they say sorry. That’s not good.”
A spokesperson at Brampton Civic was unable to confirm today whether verbal regrets were issued.
Despite requesting a new physician, Amar Kaur Brar was today back under the care of the surgeon who performed the procedure due to reduced holiday staffing levels at Brampton Civic, said Kanwaljot Brar.
“He’s taking care of her, but after the vacation is over another doctor will be given to her,” said Ms. Brar. “He’s the only one and there’s another doctor that came one day.”
The alleged mistake, where Mrs. Kaur Brar ultimately endured surgery on both her good and injured legs, is the latest in a string of controversies to beset Brampton Civic since it opened its doors amid much fanfare in October.
Two patients have died and their families believe it was due to complications caused by long waits for care.
In November, Harnek Sindu, 52, perished of pancreatitis 10 days after waiting 12 hours for a bed when he presented with abdominal pain. Last month Amerjit Narwal, 42, succumbed to a stroke.
Calling the two deaths “unacceptable,” Health Minister George Smitherman last week appointed a supervisor to assume control of William Osler Health Centre, the hospital network responsible for Brampton Civic.
A citizen’s group, billing itself as Bramptonians for Better Health Care, held a thousand-person protest last month and is now organizing a petition calling for more funding, better staffing levels and the opening of more beds at a hospital serving one of Canada’s fastest growing communities.
Group spokesman Rajinder Saini, who is also editor of Parvasi Weekly, called the latest incident “unbelievable.”
“It’s tragic,” he said in an interview. “There is outrage in the community. They are losing confidence in the hospital.” While the apologies were appreciated, Ms. Brar said they come as cold comfort to her grandmother, who arrived in Canada from India last summer and now remains hospitalized.
“She just started crying,” reported her granddaughter.
Mrs. Kaur Brar slipped and fell on the stairs on Dec. 25, fracturing her left leg. She was taken to Brampton Civic where she was informed she needed surgery to repair the leg.
But in the operating room the doctor cut open her right leg, her family said. When he found nothing wrong, he realized the error, sewed her up and had to open the left leg, which was visibly swollen.
Ms. Brar said her grandmother’s condition has not improved much in recent days. She is in pain when she moves, especially when nursing staff encourage her to roll on to her side or remove her from bed to sit in a chair.The family has rallied to care for the grandmother who used to care for them, said Ms. Brar, whose mother is taking time off work for the medical emergency.“She was very active.
She used to do all the household work. Before, she had a knee replacement and it was very good for her,” Ms. Brar said. “She’s very old and it’s difficult for her at this age.“She’s really scared of health care now.”"
Citing the above news story, I wrote to Liberal Jim Bradley on Jan.3, 2007, posted earlier, asking that Ontario's Ombudsman investigate Ontario's health monopoly, because I believe incidents such as the ones above are are not localized, they are systemic and widespread throughout Ontario's health care system. Bradley's Liberals bleat on about health care, but all they've done is raise "health" taxes on one hand, implement tax cuts on the other, and accumulate a budget surplus worth billions in the meantime...yet, patients in their no-choice health system still unbelievably suffer.
Truly, unbelievable. And there are still four more terrible Liberal years to go...how many more Ontario patients will suffer and die under this Liberal health care duplicity?