Toronto Star

Queen’s Park gets ‘fresh pair of eyes’

Former Halton police officer Jackie Gordon is Ontario’s first female sergeant-at-arms


The ceremonial part of the job worried Ontario’s new sergeant-at-arms the most.

But Jackie Gordon had no trouble finding her feet on her historic first day in the legislatur­e — as family, close friends and 100 young women visiting Queen’s Park as part of a leadership program looked on.

Gordon, a former Halton police inspector, is the first female to hold the job since confederat­ion.

“It’s a historic moment and they wanted to share that with me,” she said of her daughter and husband, who sat with a group of her longtime girlfriend­s from Burlington Central High School, as well as close policing colleagues she’s known for 35 years. “They know I’ve worked hard for a long time to get where I’ve gotten to and they wanted to be here to support that day.”

Gordon, who was named to the post last month, takes over from Dennis Clark, who held the job for 19 years.

Tuesday was her first day leading the procession into the house — carrying the 20-pound mace over her shoulder, long sword and gun at her side. She practised a half a dozen times beforehand, “just to time my steps and to figure out all the various aspects of the role.”

“I think I did pretty good today; I don’t think I made any mistakes,” she said in an interview after question period.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to do the job,” Gordon said, and while she doesn’t mind being applauded for being the first woman, “it’s also important for people to recognize that this wasn’t a job that was given to a woman, it was given to a woman who earned it. That’s the difference, and that’s what is important to me. But I’m very happy to represent women and be the first sergeant-at-arms in this legislatur­e. I’m very proud.”

Since being named to the position, Gordon has met with staff, familiariz­ed herself with the legislativ­e building, and is now working on a strategic plan.

“My next learning curve is to perform the duties of the sergeant-atarms in the Ontario legislatur­e, so my focus in the short-term is to learn those duties quickly and make sure I understand them,” she said. “And then I’ll turn my attention to some of the security issues I’d like to look at.

“I’m just looking at the whole organizati­on with a fresh pair of eyes.”

Gordon joked that she still has to match all the MPPs to their pictures — some of which are out of date, “which made it a little more challengin­g this morning when I went in . . . But my big job is to make sure I know when somebody is speaking, and I can identify them, so if the Speaker names somebody, then I’ll know which person is being named and be able to remove them.”

Thankfully, MPPs were well-behaved on her first day.

“I appreciate the members allow- ing my first day to go by without having to take on that role,” she said.

Clark, her predecesso­r, told her that everybody is very supportive and “I’ve certainly found that to be the case,” Gordon said. “It’s like a family here.”

So much so that her first day in the legislatur­e “almost felt like a second wedding — having to get dressed and wanting everything to be just perfect,” she said, laughing.

Gordon, the province’s 10th sergeant-at-arms, also worked for two years with the Ministry of Education in building and fire codes compliance. In her 34 years in Halton, she worked in investigat­ions, community policing and courts and spent 12 years at the rank of inspector.

 ?? ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE/TORONTO STAR ?? Ontario’s new sergeant-at-arms, Jackie Gordon, leads her first procession into the legislatur­e on Tuesday.
ANDREW FRANCIS WALLACE/TORONTO STAR Ontario’s new sergeant-at-arms, Jackie Gordon, leads her first procession into the legislatur­e on Tuesday.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada