Outgoing MPP Jeff Leal says one thing has driven him throughout his 33 years as a public representative — a desire to make Peterborough a better place.
“It is about working with people,” Leal said. “You stand on the shoulders of others, and you advance the community forward.”
Leal’s political career began in 1985, launching an 18-year career in municipal politics. He says he watched the city weather some hard storms, particularly the years of provincial downloading in the 1990s.
“That had a profound impact on municipal government in the Province of Ontario. In fact, just about destroyed municipal government,” Leal said.
That, and a growing interest in the health and education sectors, inspired him to run for a provincial seat in 2003.
As MPP and Minister of Agriculture, Leal had a hand in almost every high-profile project that’s come to Peterborough in the last 15 years. When asked about some of those projects, Leal rattles off a list that includes everyting from building PRHC, investments at Trent University and Fleming College, the 407 extension, and the creation of the new Canadian Canoe Museum.
“I thrived on this work, each and every day. I would look at myself in the mirror every day and try to do the very best that I could do,” Leal said.
But Leal’s political journey is coming to an end. He’s packing up his constituency office, and handing over the keys to MPP-elect Dave Smith in the coming weeks.
He has no plans to step back into municipal politics. Leal says he’s taking the summer off, and will see what happens come the fall.
As he looks back on his 33 years in office, he says he has no regrets.
“Very few people get that kind of opportunity in their lives. I got it, and it’s just been a really remarkable journey.”
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