The first thing Ernie Eves says to us as he walks into the room is “What a bunch of crazy people!”
The former Premier and cabinet minister is probably only half-joking when he wonders why young people like us would want to get involved in Ontario politics.
He would definitely know what he is talking about.
From being an MPP for over twenty years, serving as Finance Minster and, finally, Premier of the province, Mr. Eves has seen enough to give us a good appraisal of the field.
We were lucky to have an hour with him at his Toronto law office (the same firm as David Peterson, he pointed out) to hear more about his life in politics and time at the helm.
Mr. Eves told us that job of Premier is substantially different than any other in Ontario – even minister of finance. While ministers must micromanage and know the intricate details of their portfolios, a Premier’s decisions happen at “thirty thousand feet” and require a significant adjustment in thinking. It was obviously a job he enjoyed, as he confessed to missing the “seven crises a day” that whoever holds the office faces.
Our conversation was not confined to reflections on the past, as Mr. Eves had plenty of thoughts to share about contemporary Ontario politics. We’re guessing that, when you’re looking for perceptive political analysis, listening to a former Premier is a solid bet. A piece of advice he had for politicians of all stripes was to let their true personalities and opinions guide their actions, and not be too swayed by coterie of advisors.
Our meeting with Premier Eves was notable for its reflective tone. When we speak with politicians currently holding office, it is sometimes difficult to separate honest opinions from political spin. Mr. Eves, however, was thoughtful, forthcoming and candid. For that, and for sharing his time, we thank him.