The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.
Any politician who has been around for 18 years has battle scars, and so it is with Sudbury Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci, who announced this week he is stepping down from cabinet and retiring from politics when the next election is called.
But what he has brought to Sudbury outweighs those scars. Bartolucci was first elected in 1995 and quickly earned the title Minister of Outrage. He brought forward a bill limiting class sizes –an initiative Premier Dalton McGuinty would later champion. And in classic Minister of Outrage style, Bartolucci introduced a bill that would allow police to pick up anyone under the age of 18 who was involved in prostitution. That the police already had such powers didn’t bother him. Making noise to call attention to an issue was his trademark in opposition.
His signature contribution to Greater Sudbury is championing the four-laning of Highway 69, both in opposition and in government — which is expected to be complete by 2017.
He was named minister of Northern Development and Mines in 2003, moving the ministry’s headquarters to Sudbury. In 2007, he moved to Community Safety and Correctional Services. His most notorious battle scar arose there when the government quietly passed a bill that allowed police to detain people near Toronto G20 summit –a law that Ombudsman Andrew Marin would later say “infringe(d) on the freedom of expression in ways that do not seem justifiable in a free and democratic society.”
Bartolucci was moved to Municipal Affairs and Housing after that, before returning to the MNDN portfolio, where he was most at home, in 2011.
His other battle scars include announcing the dismantling and selling of the Ontario Northland Transportation Commission during McGuinty’s austerity initiative –which alienated communities along the Highway 11 corridor –avoiding a vote on an NDP bill banning replacement workers during the year-long Steelworkers strike at Vale, and keeping quiet during the foreign takeover by Vale of Inco.
He barely edged out the NDP in the 2011 election, which was a signal that the MPP who typically won by big majorities was nearing the end of his political career.
For the rest of this article, please go to the Sudbury Star website: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2013/02/09/pov-sudbury-has-done-well-under-bartoluccis-tenure