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By Joel Brown
Yesterday, Mike Harris informed the public he intends to step down as Premier of Ontario.
Depending on who you talk to, this is either a good or bad thing. But, no matter who you talk to, it seems unanimous he will leave a legacy behind.
|"I spoke to our caucus [yesterday] morning and indicated to them that I will resign as party leader and as Ontario Premier upon the election of a new leader of our party," Harris said at his announcement in Toronto.
Harris cited personal reasons for his departure.
Harris, who has been Ontario's premier for six years, said his biggest accomplishment was leveling the playing field for children to ensure every child has an equal start in life.
"I entered political life to make a difference to make changes for the better," he said. "I am proud of the Common Sense Revolution and all that it has done."
Many around the province believe Harris has been the most influential Premier of this generation. The Gazette asked various leaders around the province what they thought about Harris' resignation.
Western political science professor Ian Brodie:
"It's hard to remember the last premier who had such a decisive impact. There were drastic health, educational and municipal reforms. He was a very active premier."
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty organizer John Clarke:
"There's so many things he'll be hated for. Ask the people in Walkerton or ask the people in Ipperwash. Ask the friends of homeless people who died on the street. He'll be remembered for being the premier who changed the face of the province, which is now infinitely uglier that ever before.
"I think his greatest accomplishment is [his] leaving."
Ontario Progressive Conservative Campus Association president Adam Daifallah:
"It was with great sadness that we learned [yesterday] of the resignation of Premier Mike Harris, the man who inspired so many of us to get involved in politics and the Ontario PC Party.
"We are indebted to him for his outstanding leadership and service to our party and province."
London Mayor Anne-Marie DeCicco:
"The two issues that stand out, which affect London, were the tax policy changes and downloading [of service responsibility]. It seems we were always having to change things."
Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance president and Western University Student Council VP-education Erin McCloskey:
"What will probably stick out in many taxpayers mind will be the $200 cheque they received the only one in his six years as premier.
"Students will remember the average debt load is higher than it's ever been."
Elgin-Middlesex-London MPP Steve Peters, Liberal:
"He initiated an unprecedented number of changes to our province that weren't thought through."