Ted Arnott, MPP
Wellington – Halton Hills
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 1, 2012
Ontario Legislature pays tribute to Elizabeth Witmer
(Queen’s Park) – On Monday, the Ontario Legislature paid tribute to former Kitchener-Waterloo MPP
Mrs. Witmer, who holds the distinction of being the longest serving woman MPP in the history of Ontario,
resigned as a member of the Ontario Legislature on April 27, to become the new Chair of the Workplace
Safety Insurance Board. Mrs. Witmer was first elected in 1990, and served 22 years as an MPP.
“Once recognized in the Toronto Star as the hardest-working MPP in the House, her work was also
defined by her compassion for people and a practical, collaborative approach to getting things done. She
would work across party lines and never let partisanship get in the way of accomplishing her goals and
those of her community,” Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott told the House. “She was never
defined by her party, but, at its best, our party was defined by her.”
Mr. Arnott noted that Mrs. Witmer has served in a wide variety of roles, including Deputy Premier,
Minister of Health, Education, Environment, and Labour, Deputy Leader, House Leader, and Caucus
“She was always a political trailblazer, demonstrating that women are, in every measure, the equal of
men when it comes to political leadership,” said Mr. Arnott.
Earlier in the day, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak also thanked Mrs. Witmer for her work and recognized
her outstanding contribution to Ontario public life.
“To you, Elizabeth Witmer, I say thank you. You made an incredible impact on our party and the province
of Ontario. If we had a hall of fame here in the Ontario Legislature, you’d be an inductee today,” Mr.
“I want to say too, on behalf of the Ontario PC Party and our members across the province, we will be
eternally grateful to Elizabeth Witmer for her leadership, her dedication, her guidance and the incredible
service to our party, to our province and to the good people of Kitchener–Waterloo,” he continued.
Premier Dalton McGuinty also recognized Mrs. Witmer’s years of distinguished service:
“For…successive elections, the people of Kitchener-Waterloo kept returning Ms. Witmer to this
House…and that is surely because they see in their community what we can all see here: the genuine
article; a politician with a heart for public service; a leader who cares for those around her; a dedicated,
passionate, articulate, thoughtful, representative of her community; someone who embodies the very
best of the traditions of our democracy.”
(Attached: Hansard record of Ted Arnott’s speech in the Ontario Legislature, April 30, 2012.)
– 30 –
Mr. Ted Arnott: In a political life, you meet thousands of people, and over a political lifetime, you may
be lucky enough to develop a friendship with a very exceptional person who has inspired everyone around
her with her passionate commitment to public service. Such a person is our colleague Elizabeth Witmer. I
know I speak for her friends on all sides of the House when I say thank you to Elizabeth and wish her
well as she assumes her new leadership responsibilities as chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance
Last week, Elizabeth put her family first and decided that after 32 consecutive years serving the people of
Ontario in elected office, the time had come for her to retire from the Legislature. What a career she’s had
here: Deputy Premier, Minister of Health, Education, Environment and Labour-all the easy ones, as she
once said. In opposition: deputy leader, House leader, caucus chair and critic of some of those same
important responsibilities-all this after a decade on the Waterloo public school board, and half that time as
She was always a political trailblazer, demonstrating women are, in every measure, the equal of men
when it comes to political leadership. She also leads this place having made Ontario history as the
longest-serving woman MPP ever with an elegance, class and style rarely seen in politics.
Once recognized in the Toronto Star as the hardest-working MPP in the House, her work was also defined
by her compassion for people and a practical, collaborative approach to getting things done. She would
work across party lines and never let partisanship get in the way of accomplishing her goals and those of
her community. She was never defined by her party, but, at its best, our party was defined by her.
She accomplished big things for Waterloo region, like the hospital improvements and support for the
universities and college expansions, but she was never too busy to help anyone she could with their
individual issues and problems. I think of the McFadyen family and their little son Isaac, who needed life-
saving medication, and what she did to convince the government to do the right thing; and the way she
championed the free flu shot, which has saved literally thousands of lives since she introduced it a decade
ago; and the work she did with the registered nurses and all the health stakeholder groups whom she
enjoyed working with so much.
The circumstances of her departure meant she was unable to say goodbye to us here in this chamber, but I
know she would want me to extend her warmest wishes to everyone here: the staff of the Legislature,
members of all three caucuses, everyone.
Having been privileged to serve with Elizabeth for the past 22 years, I’ve come to know her family, and I
know how proud they are of all she has done. As a friend, I’m saddened by her departure, but I know that
all of us here who admired her and the way she served Ontario are ready to accept the torch that she
passes to us.