For decades, former Ontario premier Bill Davis refused to let anyone write his biography.
But 32 years after stepping down as premier, and after more than 10 years of subtle pressure, Davis finally agreed to allow journalist and host of The Agenda on TVO, Steve Paikin, to author his biography.
As a part of his book tour Paikin stopped by Algonquin’s Pembroke campus on Thursday Jan. 12, to take part in their long-running speaker series
Davis was Ontario’s second longest serving premier, and one of the most controversial. From founding the community college system to funding the Catholic school board, Davis’s choices shaped the Ontario that exists today.
Bill Davis: Nation Builder, and Not So Bland After All, is Paikin’s seventh book and chronicles the life and career of Davis. One of Ontario’s longest sitting premiers, Davis’s political career has close ties to Paikin’s interest in provincial politics and journalism.
“When he won his first election, I was 11,” said Paikin in an interview prior to the event. “When he left the premier’s office, I was 24.
“My most formative years growing up in the province of Ontario were coincidentally his most formative years in politics.” This has led to a lasting interest in Davis’s life, culminating in the book.
Jamie Bramburger, the student and community affairs manager for the Pembroke campus, who hosted an interview-style discussion with Paikin in front of more than 75 attendees, had been trying to book Paikin for the speaker series for years.
“I first reached out to Mr. Paikin about 10 years ago, but his schedule was too busy to have him participate in our speaker series at that time,” Bramburger told the Times after the presentation. “When his new book on Bill Davis was released, I tried again and was pleased when he accepted the invitation.”
The event was broadcast on CogecoTV and drew a mostly older crowd.
Afterwards Paikin fielded questions ranging from Davis’s government to his take on Hydro One.
The timing of the event could not have been better, with Algonquin and the province’s colleges celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and Davis being the one who created the system.
Speaking from his well of experience, Paikin has some words of advice for students in the community college system that Davis created.
“Dive in. This is in some respects the last great opportunity you will have in your life to enjoy the process of self exploration.”