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Ted McMeekin
M.P.P. - Ancaster-Dundas
4th Floor, suite 4320
Whitney Block
99 Wellesley Street
Toronto, Ontario
M7A 1W3
Fax 416-327-3790

Constituency Office
P.O. Box 1240,
Waterdown, ON, L0R 2H0
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  Home / Members Statements / Ted speaking to the WORKPLACE SAFETY AND INSURANCE AMENDMENT ACT (BOB SHAW), 2006  




Mr. Ted McMeekin (Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Aldershot): On October 1, 2006, Premier Dalton McGuinty. at a memorial service honouring firefighters. uttered these words: "It takes a special kind of person to crash through a door of a building filled with smoke, to face chemicals that are as dangerous as they are invisible. It takes a special kind of person, one who is prepared to die so that others might live. In a world coloured with so many shades of grey, we don't often speak of heroes. But when danger strikes, when the world is black and white, we need heroes."

Yes indeed, we do need heroes.

On March 24, 2004, Hamilton lost two of its heroes. One was 55-year-old Robert Shaw, a dedicated Hamilton firefighter of some 27 years. According to the medical reports, which of course I have reviewed, Mr. Shaw died from an occupational disease obtained while fighting the famous Plastimet warehouse fire, a fire that burned PVC plastic for four days in 1997.


Like his father, Harry, who was also a firefighter, Bob Shaw clearly understood the risks associated with his calling, and right up to the time of his death, he wouldn't complain or cast blame. He simply told his friends, "I was just doing my job."

His wife, Jacqueline, who is with us here this morning, reports that when Bob came back from his first day battling the Plastimet fire, eyes burning and coughing up phlegm, he wouldn't heed her plea to stay home because he "didn't want to let the other guys down."

His son Nathan, in a letter to the Premier, has this to say:

"My dad gave his life for his job. For his case to be rejected in such a way by his own province is indescribable. The WSIB is so powerful and steadfast in their unjust ways that I feel helpless when it comes to challenging their flawed policies in the areas of recognition and compensation for Ontario firefighters.

"You and your government," Mr. Premier, "have done much to honour living firefighters through various policy initiatives. Now it is time to step up and honour those firefighters who are sick, ill, injured or have died tragically like my father.

"I am a 21-year-old university student who no longer has a father. For my own province not to recognize who my dad was, what he did or why he is gone is indescribably painful and wrong.

"I lost my dad, my best friend and my role model. Our community lost a hero.

"I ask you from the bottom of my heart to please do what you know is right."

Friends, while I believe that our government will ultimately move to correct this injustice through government legislation, in the meantime I intend to support this private member initiative, to stand shoulder to shoulder with Jacqueline and Nathan Shaw and with our professional firefighters --


The Deputy Speaker: Order. Can we take the conversations outside, please? Thank you.

Mr. McMeekin: -- to ensure that we do more than engrave the names of fallen firefighters on a wall, but also etch their memory in our hearts.

I mentioned two heroes who died on March 24, 2004. The other was my good friend and mentor Dominic Agostino. Dominic repeatedly raised the tragedy of Plastimet and warned of the illnesses that would surely follow. Dominic was a friend of Hamilton but especially the men and women who placed their lives on the line for us every single day. If Dom were with us today, I know he would be standing in his place and speaking out. I'm also sure he would join me in congratulating Nathan Shaw, Bob's son, who has fought a long and difficult battle to win justice for his family.

Nathan, thank you for having the wisdom and the courage to keep at it. Your dad and your granddad would be very proud of you. So am I. Thank you for reminding us that we do need heroes and for being that hero for us today.