01/20/2016 03:52 EST | Updated 01/20/2017 05:12 EST

Cressy And Bassett Are Worthy Additions To The Order Of Ontario

Randy Risling via Getty Images
TORONTO, ON - JUNE 3: Gordon Cressy, former President, United Way speaks at a City Hall at a press conference opposing the practice of police carding. (Randy Risling/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Gordon Cressy and Isabel Bassett will officially become members of the Order of Ontario. They are both worthy candidates for Ontario's most distinguished honour.

I nominated Cressy because of his commitment to social justice, defence of minority rights and his idealism in helping the needy here at home and abroad. I became a fan of Bassett when she was a noted progressive cabinet minister in Mike Harris's ultra-Conservative government. I admired her commitment to public institutions such as TV Ontario.

My nomination of Cressy had the endorsement of esteemed Canadians, including Stephen Lewis; former President of Ryerson University Sheldon Levy; Meric S. Gertler and Anne Sado, the presidents of the University of Toronto and George Brown College, respectively; and institutions such as the YMCA of Trinidad & Tobago and The Learning Partnership.

In endorsing my nomination, Canada's respected and admired citizen Stephen Lewis reflected how, "that in the span of but 50 years, how one person could bring financial integrity to three celebrated postsecondary institutions, could orchestrate the ascension of the United Way to extraordinarily financial heights, could physically move with his wife to Trinidad and Tobago, there to establish an entirely new YMCA in a an entirely new culture, could immerse himself, with compelling success, in issues involving children and families (including the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund); could manage to orchestrate collaborative learning and community initiatives in concert with multinational corporations: and could even find time for a brief but decisive political dalliance at municipal level."

For the president of George Brown, "Gordon Cressy is a man with a deep social conscience and one that exercises his convictions, and uses his many talents, to help so many in our community." For president Gertler, Cressy is a "visionary agent of change."

Isabel Bassett has served as an MPP, an influencial cabinet minister and chair and CEO of TV Ontario. She was a noted journalist and national co-chair of the James Robinson Johnston Chair in Black Canadian Studies at Dalhousie University -- among many achievements.

To her contributions to TVO -- Steve Paikin wrote a personal testimonial, celebrating her efforts that "made a huge contributions to Ontario in several fields including the media, politics, philanthropy and championing women's issues." He further reflected how, "TVO was under constant threat of having its budget cut, or being privatized altogether. Yet under Ms. Bassett's leadership, she successfully made the case to the Mike Harris government that TVO should remain in the public's hands, as a distinctive, non-commercial voice."

In an endorsement letter of my nomination of Ms. Bassett, former premier Mike Harris paid tribute to her, describing how "she has earned herself a place in Canadian history." Ontario's 22nd premier added how "she was a tireless promoter of social justice and equal opportunity for all Ontarians."

I am glad I forwarded the nomination of these distinguished Ontarians as they are a credit to my adopted Canadian citizenship.

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