Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In
Hill Life & People

Remembering Paul Dewar: the man, the mentor, the friend

By Tim Powers      

The late NDP MP was a fundamentally humble man who sought to make a difference, not further the family name.

Paul Dewar likely made a great teacher, writes Tim Powers, whose classroom probably had a bright, welcoming space. The Hill Times photograph by Andrew Meade
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

Paul Dewar is getting the praise in death I hope he was aware existed for him when he was with us. He really was a genuinely good guy, and Lord knows the world of politics needs more of them, not less.

Parliament Hill is a small place and when you have spent a bit of time there you do get to meet most of its leading characters. This certainly was true for me meeting Dewar.

My business partner Robin MacLachlan used to work for Dewar and that was how we built an early relationship. Dewar was, as MacLachlan described him, smart, decent, open-minded, warm, and kind. But what clinched my affection for Dewar was he was an active guy and his sons played rugby. We rugby people have a not-so-secret society that affords others connected to the game a special sort of relationship status.

In fact, Dewar participated in lots of rugby activities over the years. In those settings, I often got to hear about a dad’s love of his sons and the value of sport to the family. As a dad myself now, I know that is a pretty potent and special thing. He was mentoring me and I am not sure he knew it.

I also saw a fundamentally humble man who was willing to try anything and able to laugh at himself through his journey. While seeing this, part of me thought he likely was great as a teacher because of his way of easily connecting with all sorts of different people. His classroom was likely a bright space where all ideas were welcome.

It was his humility that was truly impressive. The Dewar name is synonymous with much of Ottawa’s history. From what I saw, he never looked to live off the family reputation but rather went about working hard to make a difference, not further the brand. He was always Paul, not Mr. Dewar.

On the Hill, he was a most sought-after representative of the NDP. He was extremely knowledgeable, to be sure, but he was an excellent communicator who actually came across as a human being not a robotic talking-point twerp. He was a huge asset for his party and federal politics. By being likable he made the NDP likable.

It was obvious he loved Ottawa as you’d see him at many community events not looking like has was serving a sentence to be there but instead enjoying himself. Ottawa Centre was central to who he seemed to be and many of the views he represented in Parliament. His constituents, of which I was one, couldn’t complain about their Member being disconnected from them or being inaccessible. Being local mattered to him.

When Dewar ran for the leadership of the NDP I thought, despite some of our different political views, he was a guy worth supporting. Clearly my donation made an enormous impact. Though Dewar didn’t fare well in that race, he demonstrated great class afterwards. No public sulking about his loss, and he jumped firmly behind new leader Thomas Mulcair. Grace in defeat—another characteristic to be respected.

The last time I saw Dewar in person was shortly before he got sick. He was walking down Sparks Street with a smile on his face off to do some good for someone. We had a chat. We had a laugh. We went on our way. I always thought of him that way—a thoroughly original guy whose company it was always a pleasure to be in.

Fifty-six is way too young to die. The disease that took him is a cruel beast. But what will never go is the memory of Dewar and the legacy of decency he left.

Tim Powers is vice-chairman of Summa Strategies and managing director of Abacus Data. He is a former adviser to Conservative political leaders.

The Hill Times

Explore, analyze, understand
Guide to Using Social and Digital Tools in Election Campaigns: Digital and Social Tools that Politicos are Using to get Elected, Raise Funds, and Recruit Volunteers
Guide to Using Social and Digital Tools in Election Campaigns

Get the book
Charting the CBC’s challenging present and uncertain future
Charting the CBC's challenging present and uncertain future: Where it has been and where it is going provides an insider profile of the struggles faced by Canada’s public broadcaster in the 21st century.

Get the book
Democracy, Terrorism and Killer Robots: Embassy News covers the 2015 Halifax International Security Forum
The Halifax International Security Forum is one of the world’s biggest gatherings of defence and security leaders.

Get the book
Related Policy Briefings
Defence Policy Briefing
Short and informative analyses on policy challenges that bring background and recommendations to policymakers, journalists and the general public.

Read policy briefing

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning

Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Nearly 100 new MPs offer new face of Parliament, including 60 in flipped seats

In many ways the incoming Parliament looks quite similar to its predecessor, with 240 returning MPs, the same number of MPs who are Indigenous or a visible minority, and 10 more women.

Rise of advance voting raising questions about impact on, and of, campaigns: experts

Almost 4.8-million Canadians voted at advance polls this year, according to Elections Canada estimates, a roughly 30.6 per cent increase over 2015, accounting for roughly one-quarter of all ballots cast this election.

Watchdog’s proposed minority Parliament rules ‘appalling,’ says legal expert

News|By Mike Lapointe
Democracy Watch says Governor General should speak with all party leaders before deciding who can try forming government, but Emmett Macfarlane says the confidence convention is the linchpin of the parliamentary system.

McKenna may be moved to new cabinet role after four years implementing Grits’ climate policies, say politicos

News|By Neil Moss
Catherine McKenna's 'tenure in environment would have prepared her well for any other kind of responsibility the prime minister may assign,' says former environment minister Jean Charest.

‘They went with what they knew’: Politicos react to Election 43

'If anybody should've won a majority, it should've been Trudeau. He didn't, and it's his to wear,' says CBC columnist Neil Macdonald of the Oct. 21 election results.

‘A clear mandate’: Trudeau wins second term, with voters handing Liberals a minority

News|By Beatrice Paez
Though not improbable, his victory was not inevitable. It brings an end to a nail-biting, gruelling 40-day slog that has exposed deepening rifts across the country.

McKenna wins re-election in Ottawa Centre, trumpets voters’ support for climate fight

News|By Neil Moss
'I’m so relieved,' Catherine McKenna said, about continuing with the Liberal climate change plan.

Election 2019 was a ‘campaign of fear,’ say pollsters

'There may well be a message to this to the main parties, that slagging each other will only take you so far,' says Greg Lyle.

Election 2019 campaign one of the most ‘uninspiring, disheartening, and dirtiest’ in 40 years, says Savoie

News|By Abbas Rana
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May says she has never seen an election where mudslinging overwhelmingly dominated the campaign, leaving little or no time for policy discussion.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.