Lewis raised the bar for the OPP

Seaway News - - EDITORIAL & OPINIONS - Claude McIn­tosh Mac’s Mus­ings

When Chris Lewis turns in his On­tario Pro­vin­cial Po­lice badge in March, the men and women who serve un­der him will be los­ing more than a boss; they will be say­ing good­bye to a good friend. For Lewis, the OPP is fam­ily. No com­mis­sioner has been held in such high re­gard by those who serve un­der him, or as in one case, her. He is a cop’s cop, and then some. It has been a 35- year climb up the stairs to the com­mis­sioner’s of­fice in 2010, but Lewis has never let the power and pomp of the of­fice go to his head.

A good ex­am­ple of Lewis’ style came through loud and clear shortly af­ter he took over com­mand of the force from the flam­boy­ant Ju­lian Fantino. He showed up at Stor­mont, Dundas and Glen­garry head­quar­ters in Long Sault to meet with the troops with cof­fee and muffins in hand.

His knack for re­mem­ber­ing names and faces of of­fi­cers is noth­ing short of amaz­ing. On his visit to Long Sault, he sur­prised a con­sta­ble by call­ing him by his first name, de­spite the fact they had only met once be­fore.

A few years ago when an OPP of­fi­cer was killed in the line of duty, the next day in a let­ter dis­trib­uted to the rank and file, he poured out his raw emo­tional feel­ings about the loss. It came from the heart. One of­fi­cer told me he put down the let­ter down and cried.

“It was writ­ten by a man who cares for his peo­ple,” said the of­fi­cer. “In this job, that means some­thing.”

Lewis took heat from many in the me­dia when he re­fused to send of­fi­cers in to break up an Idle No More demon­stra­tion near his home­town of Sar­nia. He rea­soned that diplo­macy was a bet­ter op­tion rather than risk­ing blood­shed. In the end, he was right.

He got his start as a young con­sta­ble in Ka­puskas­ing, then went to Smooth Rock Falls. While tes­ti­fy­ing at the Corn­wall Pub­lic In­quiry, the judge joked that “Deputy Com­mis­sioner Lewis, with two post­ings like that you must have stood first in your ( grad­u­a­tion) class at po­lice col­lege.”

Peo­ple who worked with Lewis over the years knew he was headed for the top.

Lewis spent con­sid­er­able time in the Corn­wall area as an in­spec­tor head­ing up an un­der­cover op­er­a­tion aimed at out- of­con­trol smug­gling.

As a su­per­in­ten­dent, Lewis was back in this area, serv­ing as chief of the East­ern Re­gion. He then moved up to deputy com­mis­sioner in charge of field op­er­a­tions, work­ing out of the Oril­lia head­quar­ters.

Lewis is the first po­lice of­fi­cer to have been awarded all three lev­els of the Cana­dian Or­der of Merit of the Po­lice Forces, pre­sented by three suc­ces­sive gover­nors- gen­eral.

When the fed­eral gov­ern­ment threw in the towel on the screwed up ex­per­i­ment with a civil­ian as RCMP com­mis­sioner, Lewis was on the short list, but as he put it, “I bleed ( OPP) blue.”

Iron­i­cally, in­stead of join­ing the RCMP he was in­stru­men­tal in re­cruit­ing the highly- ta­lented Mike McDonell, an RCMP deputy com­mis­sioner, to serve as com­man­der of the OPP’s SD and G op­er­a­tion.

Too many times the line about leav­ing a big pair of shoes to fill is overused, but in this case it fits. Lewis raised the bar for the OPP. TRIVIA AN­SWER St. Lawrence Brew­eries Ltd. was at the cor­ner of Wa­ter and Au­gus­tus streets. The brew­ery, which at its peak pro­duced 8,000 gal­lons of beer daily, was built in 1907 but later fell on hard times and closed in 1920. Town coun­cil had granted the brew­ery own­ers a 10- year prop­erty tax ex­emp­tion. Years later the va­cant build­ing was con­verted to a stor­age fa­cil­ity for cheese. In its last years it was home to the Gor­don ice plant.

TRIVIA This Academy Award win­ning ac­tress played one of the lead roles in a movie filmed at Up­per Canada Vil­lage. Hint - She was once mar­ried to a fu­ture pres­i­dent of the United States. Bonus if you can name the ac­tor who played the lead male role in the movie.

IN THE REAR- VIEW MIR­ROR Beaver Lum­ber on Sec­ond Street East. ... Gareau Clean­ing and Dye­ing at 51 Pitt St. ... Fit- Rite Shoe Store, 216 Pitt St. ... Stan­ford & Kennedy ( Es­tab­lished 1911) Whole­sale, 150 Pitt St. ... Cliff McDonell In­ter­na­tional Trucks, Hud­son and Packard cars, 436 Sec­ond St. W. ... The Gen­eral 5 cent to $ 1 Store, 1 Marl­bor­ough St. S. ... Peo­ple’s 5- 10- 15 cenet to $ 1 Store, 124 Pitt St. ... N. Miller & Sons scrap iron dealer, 513 Pitt St. ... East­ern Hard­ware Store ( G. H. Gi­rard pro­pri­etor), 201 Mon­treal Rd. ... Wil­son’s Wool Shop, Sec­ond Street West ( next to Capi­tol The­atre) ... The Colo­nial Coach bus ter­mi­nal that was part of the Ho­tel Corn­wal­lis, next door to that favourite hang­out, Shirley’s Restau­rant.

HERE & THERE Okay, so we had a frigid and snowy run- up to Christ­mas. The good news is that win­ter fi­nally ar­rived on Dec. 21 and ac­cord­ing to mil­lion­aire cli­mate change gu­rus David Suzuki and Al Gore our win­ters are be­com­ing more mild. So, break out the sun tan lo­tion and beach um­brel­las. ... Mayor Bob Kil­ger ( again) con­firmed dur­ing in­ter­view on Corus Ra­dio that he will be in the Oc­to­ber mayoral race. So far, no of­fi­cial chal­lengers but Mark MacDon­ald did in­di­cate sev­eral months back that he was plan­ning to run. No other tak­ers in the hop­per at this point, al­beit on his web­site the blog­ger “threat­ened” to run against the mayor. Ho- hum! For the mayor, that would be the elec­tion cam­paign gift that keeps on giv­ing. .. ... Staffing at The Stan­dard- Free­holder has been sliced so thin ( down to three ed­i­tors, two gen­eral as­sign­ment re­porters and one sports writer) Publisher Pete Pad­bury this year was able to cover the an­nual of­fice Christ­mas lun­cheon with an ex­tra- large pizza and large or­der of fries.

SEEN & HEARD The re­sound­ing praise for newly crowned SD and G war­den Eric Dun­can by MP Guy Lau­zon at the Dec. 6 swear­ing in cer­e­mony sure sounded like a solid en­dorse­ment for the per­son many be­lieve will suc­ceed the vet­eran Con­ser­va­tive MP when he re­tires, per­haps on the eve of the next elec­tion.

ONE LAST THING Life is a jour­ney, so en­joy ev­ery mile.

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