Tribute to former MPP Bruce Crozier in the Ontario Legislature
Ted Arnott, MPP
Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott delivered the following tribute
to former MPP Bruce Crozier in the Ontario Legislature on May 8, 2013
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
He was, said his family, “a real gentleman; a true friend.” What a beautiful and eloquent
way to remind us of the remarkable life of service of the member for Essex, Bruce
Crozier, who departed this place and then, so shortly and sadly thereafter, departed this
It’s a real honour for me to speak in tribute to Bruce with his family here because I
considered him a friend across the aisle, as we all did. On behalf of the entire Ontario
PC caucus, I extend our condolences to Joan and the rest of the Crozier family.
Bruce was one of the best-liked members and one of the most effective ones during his
long tenure, speaking on behalf of and representing the people of Essex county for
some 18 years, an amazing record of service, far longer than the average tenure of
MPPs these days.
As he once said, he was a constituency person first and foremost, which meant he
instinctively and consciously put his constituents first. It meant he put his constituents
ahead of his own personal ambition. It meant that, yes, he was partisan, he was loyal to
his party, but he spoke up for his people. It meant that no one else wrote his script, and
it meant that he didn’t waste a lot of time chasing the Queen’s Park press gallery after
question period. He was a workhorse, not a show horse. He was the kind of member
that this place relies upon and could not function without.
Bruce’s life was one of service. Active for years in Kin Canada, he rose to become the
national director. He was involved in many other community organizations at home in
Leamington, too many to list here. He served on council and as mayor.
Professionally, he had a distinguished private sector career as an accountant and as an
insurance broker. He worked for years for Bennie Lumber and Building Materials and
later for the H.J. Heinz Company, before joining us here in a by-election in December
When he arrived here, serving in opposition to the NDP government of the day, he soon
was on his feet, not with an over-the-top partisan rant, for that wasn’t Bruce Crozier, but
instead his own thoughtful observations based on his life and his professional
experience and what he was hearing in his riding. It was an auspicious start. For as long
as his name was on the ballot in Essex South, and later, Essex, the other parties, including our own, didn’t have a chance. Even when his party was dragging him down,
as it did occasionally, he still had strong pluralities, underlining the respect that people
had for him in his home community, the people who knew him best.
Before long he was a critic of several important ministries and he introduced a number
of important private member’s bills. I remember one in particular, which was an
amendment to the Safe Streets Act. His bill sought to allow our volunteer firefighters to
have occasional fundraising tolls on the main streets of our small towns. I voted for his
bill at second reading and it ended up as a tie vote, which meant that the Acting
Speaker had to vote as well, as tradition dictates, voting in favour of the bill to allow
further discussion. It passed second reading. For those who say that one vote doesn’t
matter, it was one of those days when every single vote did indeed count.
Later on he had success again with a private member’s bill that meant so much to him,
and he talked about it in his farewell speech two years ago this very month: the Katelyn
Bedard Bone Marrow Awareness Month Act. Because of the respect and trust we all
had in Bruce, we allowed that bill to receive unanimous consent to be called for third
reading and passed into law, forgoing the normal procedure. I know that he was very
proud of this accomplishment, and rightly so. His bill will raise awareness and save
lives, helping families forevermore.
In 2003, when the Liberals formed the government, Bruce was nominated, and then, by
the passage of a motion of this House, he was reappointed Deputy Speaker. And then
he had to go back to school, attending what I would call “the university of the table.”
There, tutored by our patient and knowledgeable Clerk and table staff, he became an
expert on parliamentary procedure and tradition, which he came to love and cherish, as
we all do. Over time, he became the longest-serving Deputy Speaker in the history of
the Ontario Legislature, outlasting three Speakers, and in this capacity he was known
for his sense of fairness, his sense of humour, and his integrity.
He had a deal with Bert Johnson, who was another of our favourite members, who was
also a presiding officer at the time. Bruce would do Bert’s duty when Bert went on his
annual fishing trip. In return, Bert would cover for Bruce during the week of the
Indianapolis 500, which I think was not permitted to start until Bruce arrived in
Indianapolis for this annual auto racing ritual. Indeed, the weekly morning meeting of the
presiding officers and table staff could not begin until Bruce informed us of the details of
the previous weekend’s NASCAR or IndyCar road race. He had a passion for auto
racing like nobody I’ve ever met.
Then the subject at those presiding officers’ meetings would turn to Emma, his
granddaughter, and we’d hear the latest Emma story, every one of them beautiful.
Bruce enjoyed being a member here, loved making a difference and carried his
responsibilities very well, but he missed his family terribly when the House was in
session. He once told me how he hated “that apartment” when he was down here
alone. Conversely, you could see the joy in his eyes when he’d tell you that he was busy
because Joanie was in town-Joanie, his bride of almost 50 years, the love of his life. We
all know how much he adored you, Joan, and your family, and he was looking forward
so much to spending his retirement years with you. But we never know-none of us ever
know-other than the fact that God has a plan for all of us, and we are granted comfort in
His love if we seek it.
Our Clerk, Debbie Deller, told me that when Bruce was first elected way back in 1993,
he asked her to bring him into our legislative chamber here when the place was quiet
and nobody else was around, just so he could, as he said, “soak up the privilege of what
it is to serve here.” At the end of his time, he asked her to do the same thing, so that he
could spend a few quiet moments alone reflecting on all that he’d worked so hard to
achieve for his constituents, for the people of Ontario, and what a privilege it was to
I’ll always remember Bruce either sitting over there, the best-dressed man in the House,
often wearing Prime Minister Mike Pearson’s bow tie, I understand, or sitting down there
in the Speaker’s chair looking at his beautiful pocket watch and declaring it “6 of the
clock,” adjourning the House-even if his pocket watch was off by half an hour or even
more-or standing down there, when I spoke to him for the very last time, wishing him
well in retirement and promising to keep in touch.
A real gentleman, a true friend, and we can add to that an outstanding member who
we’ll always miss.