His home for the past four decades since migrating from Jamaica, Alvin Curling has flourished in Ontario.
The former Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament for 20 years and legislative assembly Speaker will be recognized with the Order of Ontario this afternoon at Queen’s Park.
The province’s highest official award recognizes individual excellence and achievement in various fields.
The ceremony takes place just feet away from where his portrait hangs in the legislature with other past House Speakers.
“This is quite an honour,” said Curling, an ex-World Literacy Canada president who also served as Seneca College student services director for 14 years. “I have spent more time here than in the country of my birth and I have been afforded many opportunities to express myself, succeed and prosper.”
Even though he left Jamaica in his 20s, the 74-year-old Curling has maintained close contact with his birth country whose government recognized him with the Order of Distinction in the Commander Class in 2000. He also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Technology – his Jamaican alma mater – in November 2004.
A school and a street in Scarborough, where Curling has resided since 1967, were recently named after him.
The Alvin Curling Public School opened at the beginning of this month while the Alvin Curling Cres. is located in the Alton Towers Circle and Goldhawk Trail community.
Curling entered politics in 1984, losing the nomination for York-Scarborough in the federal elections by just five votes to former Toronto Mayor June Rowlands, the personal choice of then Liberal leader, John Turner. She lost the election.
Despite being a political neophyte, Curling displayed extraordinary savvy and gained the trust of Scarborough’s provincial Liberals and those in other areas by publicly supporting the candidate who had defeated him in the federal riding nomination.
The support paid dividends with Curling securing a landslide win in May 1985 in what was then Canada’s largest riding. He received 31,842 votes, which was some 8,000 more than the Progressive Conservative party candidate, Carole Noble. The victory was significant in that it ended a 22-year Conservative reign in the riding.
As a member of the provincial Liberal government between 1985 and 1990, Curling served as Minister of Housing and Minister of Skills Development with special responsibility for literacy, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and parliamentary assistant to Premier David Peterson.
In opposition, he served in various critic roles and was an active voice in the Liberal caucus.
Back in 1995, Curling engaged in a much-publicized 18-hour filibuster-like protest against the Mike Harris government’s Omnibus Bill 26, claiming a lack of public consultation. A group of fellow Liberals and New Democratic Party opposition members formed a cordon around him to prevent his removal after he was ordered expelled from the legislature for using what was judged to be “un-parliamentary language”.
The Bill, which sought to change 47 existing pieces of legislation at the same time that would have affected a wide variety of government departments and ministries, was eventually passed on January 30, 1996 following amendments that the government had not planned to make.