Former agriculture minister and Haldimand-Norfolk Liberal MP Bob Speller is being remembered as an amiable fellow who was a problem-solver and a friend of the nation’s farmers.
Speller — who died Dec. 16 at age 65 in Waterford from an undisclosed sickness — was agriculture minister for lower than a 12 months (Dec. 2003-July 2004) within the first Paul Martin authorities, however confronted outbreaks of avian flu and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also called mad cow illness.
The Hagersville native spearheaded an assist bundle of almost $1 billion for farmers hit by the BSE outbreak, and ordered the destruction of 19 million poultry to stem the tide of the avian outbreak in B.C.
Speller served 16 years in Ottawa earlier than he was defeated by Conservative Diane Finley within the 2004 election by only one,645 votes.
Martin famous he and Speller have been each elected to Parliament in 1988.
“From the very beginning, he was the kind of person that you would want to talk to when problems seemed insolvable,” the previous prime minister mentioned. “He demonstrated this as a member of Parliament, as a Minister of the Crown and as a friend.”
Former deputy prime minister and Hamilton East MP Sheila Copps referred to as Speller “one of the nicest people I have ever known.” They first met when she was Hamilton Centre MPP and he interned at her Queen’s Park workplace when he obtained out of college within the mid-Eighties.
“He was a wonderful family man and loved politics as well,” mentioned Copps. “He had a good word for everyone and was liked by all. A great Canadian who never forgot his roots in Hagersville.”
Former nationwide income minister and Hamilton West MP Stan Keyes, who additionally served 1988-2004, recalled Speller was all the time captivated with agricultural points.
“Bob would raise his hands to speak and the rest of us would sigh, saying you’re not going to bring up that marketing board stuff again, are you Bob?” mentioned Keyes. “He would respond with a smile and carry on. Bob had a great smile. I knew Bob to be a very nice guy.”
Greg Crone, an government and former president of the Haldimand-Norfolk Liberal Riding Association, mentioned Speller was often known as such “a good friend to farmers’ that some Alberta farmers approached him after his 2004 defeat to run there in the next federal election.
“He knew agriculture so well farmers often assumed he was a farmer,” mentioned Crone, who had identified Speller for greater than 30 years and talked to him a month earlier than he died. “He was very plain spoken and very friendly.”
Speller was one among three boys born Feb. 29, 1956, to Frank and Doris Speller. His father was a milkman and his mom was a Mohawk College teacher. He graduated from Hagersville Secondary School and went to York University. He graduated in 1981 with a grasp’s diploma in Canadian research.
“He was an excellent boy,” mentioned his mom. “I know that’s hard to say when you had other children, but he really was. He was a hard worker.”
He took on Dunnville dentist Bud Bradley when he determined to run for the Liberals in Haldimand-Norfolk in 1988. Bradley had held the driving since 1979. Speller defeated him by 209 votes. The driving turned Haldimand-Norfolk-Brant in 1997 earlier than returning to Haldimand-Norfolk in 2004. Speller ran unsuccessfully within the 2006 and 2011 elections.
Speller served as a Liberal commerce critic and youth critic. In the Jean Chrétien authorities, he was parliamentary secretary to the worldwide commerce minister (1998-2000)
In 1994, he turned chair of the Canadian department of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and, in 2002, turned chair of the chief committee of the CPA.
After he left politics, he based the enterprise consulting agency the Villa Nova Group, named for the village he lived in close to Waterford. He helped agricultural producers make connections, and Crone mentioned the work took him to such locations as China.
Speller served on the boards of the Haldimand-Norfolk Women’s Service, Haldimand-Norfolk Alzheimer’s Society and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Speller is survived by his spouse Joan Mouland, son Christopher, daughter Victoria, his mom Doris Donaldson and brothers David and Brian. He was predeceased by his father, Frank.