Bernadette Baptiste has been giving to the community for most of the 42 years since she migrated from Grenada. Last Friday, it was her turn to be recognized for her charitable and community contributions.
She was one of 13 Ontarians presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals at an awards ceremony hosted by Scarborough-Guildwood MPP and government minister, Margarett Best, at Scarborough Village Community Centre.
The medals mark the ascension to the throne 60 years ago on February 6, 1952 of the second longest-serving monarch in British history.
Baptiste, who has been the riding’s liberal association treasurer and chief financial officer for the past five years, said she was honoured to be a recipient of the award.
“I accept it with heartfelt gratitude for my community service,” said the Hudson’s Bay Company payroll account supervisor. “It feels good to be recognized.”
Retired politician and diplomat Alvin Curling was also presented with a medal for his significant service. He was Best’s campaign chair in the last provincial elections.
Curling held the post of president of World Literacy Canada and Director of Student Services at Seneca College for 14 years before entering politics in 1984 and 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.
A year later, he secured a landslide win in what was then Canada’s largest riding when he defeated Conservative candidate Carole Noble by nearly 8,000 votes in the provincial elections. The victory was very significant in that it ended a 22-year reign of Tory representation in the riding.
As a member of the provincial government between 1985 and 1990, Curling served as Minister of Housing and Minister of Skills Development with special responsibility for literacy. He also served as the Parliamentary Assistant to Premier David Peterson and Minster of Intergovernmental Affairs.
In opposition, he was a strong advocate for his Scarborough-Rouge River constituents and an active voice in the Liberal caucus.
The former House Speaker resigned from the Legislative Assembly seven years ago to accept a diplomatic posting as Canada’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic. He was recalled a year later.
Curling made national headlines in 1995 when he defiantly engaged in an 18-hour filibuster-like protest against the Mike Harris government’s Omnibus Bill 26, claiming a lack of public consultation.
He and York University chancellor, Roy McMurtry, co-chaired “The Review of the Roots of Youth Violence”, commissioned by the Ontario government, which has made policy recommendations based on academic research for dealing with the problem of youth violence in Ontario.
Best presented the medals.
“This is an honour that should not be taken lightly,” said the province’s Minister of Consumer Services. “It’s something you should cherish because you have made a difference in the lives of many and we are proud of you.”
The commemoration medal will be presented throughout the year to 60,000 deserving Canadians to celebrate significant contributions and achievements.
By RON FANFAIR