Browse By

First day at Queen’s Park, new MPP wanders hall

Thornhill’s Shurman feels welcomed, awaiting office

Thornhill MPP Peter Shurman

ON THE STEPS OF POWER: Newly elected MPP for Thornhill, Peter Shurman, pauses on the stairs at Queen's Park during the first exploration of his new job site. (Philip Alves/Vaughan Today)

“Good morning, Mr. Shurman,” repeated Queen’s Park staff as the rookie Thornhill MPP wound his way through the corridors of power Tuesday.

Surprised, Peter Shurman said the warm greetings made him feel particularly welcome, especially since he’d never met any of them before — this was his first time ever inside the legislature.

By voting for him 1,733 more times than former MPP Liberal Mario Racco on Oct. 10, the people of Thornhill effectively handed him the key to his new office. It was a day Shurman remembers as “surreal” as the election went well into the night.

“You expect (to win) because you worked hard, but you don’t really expect it because it’s in the hands of people,” he said sitting behind a boardroom table deep within Queen’s Park. “And then it happens and you wake up the next morning and you say — and I did say to my wife — ‘Did that happen?’ ”

Even as his victory sunk in, Shurman got to work, answering calls and emails as thoroughly as he could before hopping aboard his airplane and heading to Florida for a weeklong trip with family.

Aided by a strong tailwind on the flight home and excited to get to work, his job of representing the people of Thornhill is already underway, he said. In actuality, he added, it started during the campaign.

“I still want to see what I always called inclusive public education,” Shurman said, promising to pursue the divisive issue he acknowledges helped him win. “I never called it faith-based funding of schools — believe me, I don’t ever want to use that phrase again.

“But inclusive public education is still primary in my mind.”

It might be the primary issue on his mind, he said, but it’s far from the only one. Traffic and transportation, seniors’ care, crime — his list of priorities is long, but he said he’s been labelled the faith-based funding guy.

“One of the perceptions that I’ll be spending the first year erasing is that I was a one-issue candidate,” Shurman said. “Some people said it and some people believed it.

“I wasn’t. I never was and I never will be.”

As an opposition member, his ability to directly shape provincial policy will be limited, though he said that would not stop him from being “an articulate spokesperson for the party and for the people in my riding”.

“I would hope to have some hand in pushing the (Vaughan hospital) agenda so that four years out we’d be able to say, ‘Look at that, it’s half up’,” he said.

Shurman faces the routine all new MPPs are subjected to, including his swearing-in set for early November and settling into his new office.

Perhaps, more important for a smooth term is some crucial information he’ll receive next week.

“There’s a rookie orientation, which is a daylong thing that tells you, I guess, where the bathroom is and how to ask questions in the legislature,” he said. “The two most important things you’d want to know in any new job.”

Vaughan Today
In print: Friday, October 26, 2007
Page: 1
Byline: Philip Alves
Photo credit: Philip Alves