January 21 has been designated Lincoln Alexander Day in Ontario.
A Private Member’s Bill, introduced by Wellington-Halton Hills Conservative MPP Ted Arnott and co-sponsored by Liberal MPP Bas Balkissoon and New Democratic Party MPP Paul Miller, was passed into law by the Ontario Legislature last Thursday.
Alexander, Canada’s first Black Member of Parliament, federal Minister and Ontario’s first Black Lieutenant Governor, passed away in October 2012 at age 90.
“A day to recognize these achievements would allow every Ontarian and Canadian, especially those in the Black community, the opportunity to understand how the Honourable Lincoln Alexander overcame all the challenges in life to strive for what he believed was a better Ontario and a better Canada,” said Balkissoon.
“I had the opportunity to serve as the City of Toronto representative on a provincial committee to review the Caribana festival operations which was chaired by His Honour. From my personal experience, he was a compassionate man who always looked out for others before himself. The commitment and respect that he brought to his work throughout his illustrious career validated that he was truly a wonderful representative of the people, a true Ontarian and Canadian. We should be proud to celebrate his life.”
Arnott thanked his co-sponsors and members of the provincial parliament who supported the bill.
“This afternoon, the Ontario Legislature has the opportunity to pay appropriate tribute to the honourable Lincoln MacCauley Alexander, a man whose political appeal crossed party lines and whose life was an example of service, perseverance, humility and humanity which should guide us,” he said.”
Scarborough-Guildwood MPP Mitzie Hunter said Alexander was a remarkable Ontarian and great Canadian.
“His commitment to education, equality and community service left a lasting impact on Canada, and his legacy continues to inspire young people today” she said. “Last February, I judged an essay writing competition for Black History Month at the Royal Bank of Canada and one thing that really resonated with me after reading all of the essays submitted by the students was the importance of having role models like Alexander in the community.
“He truly inspires the community at large and in my riding where there are a large number of Black youths, this is really important. It’s especially important for them to hear about and be inspired by the accomplishments of someone like Lincoln Alexander. He is an example of how education can help you rise above circumstances you were born into…I can say that his energy and dedication to serving his community have made him a role model and an icon for me and so many in my community, especially in my role as an MPP.”
Miller, the MPP for Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, said a good education and public service are hallmarks of Alexander’s trailblazing legacy.
“Those are things for every person, young or old, to strive for and achieve,” he said. “His interest in and respect for our heritage was evident in his everyday life as a role model for young people of every colour and race. The Lincoln Alexander legacy is more than how he made you feel after a one-on-one encounter with him. It’s going to be an experience for so many students when they learn about him in their schools.”
Six years ago, then Stoney Creek Liberal MPP Jennifer Mossop proposed a similar bill that was not passed into law.
Alexander was born on January 21, 1922.