(TORONTO – January 16, 2023) On January 14, 2023, David Onley, former Lieutenant-governor of the Province of Ontario passed away. Canada lost a leader. Many of us lost a friend.
David was a leader that invited you into his family. With his generous smile, he was fast to introduce his wife Ruth and their sons. Privately, and publicly, he beamed as he talked about their accomplishments.
As a servant leader, David lifted others above himself. He leveraged his public identity and his office to fuel the success of those with new ideas and different ways of approaching complex challenges.
David served as the Queen’s representative in Ontario from 2007 to 2014. He worked passionately to shift the actions society’s institutions to value the hidden needs and wants of all people, specifically people with disabilities.
As a broadcaster, we invited David into our homes to educate and entertain. His mix of passion, eloquence and wit charmed us all from his base at 99 Queen Street West. For those of us who grew up watching him, and later became his colleague, that was the real David. No pretense. No act.
In his role as the 3rd Reviewer of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), David pulled no punches. He laid bare the stark realities of how people with disabilities manage their lives while fighting though outright discrimination in a world designed without consideration for their needs and wants.
Privately, David was turning up the heat on our leaders for greater accountability. Candidly, this may be his greatest legacy when history is revealed.
While David’s public appearances were reduced as he managed new disabilities, he worked on his passions right up until his passing on Saturday. In typical Onley style, he sent an email to us on Friday from the hospital, apologizing profusely for missing a video conference.
We honour David’s passion. We embrace David’s lifelong vision to level playing fields for people with disabilities. We pick up David’s torch.
Thank you, Your Honour.
4th Reviewer of the AODA
2nd Reviewer of the AODA
1st Reviewer of the AODA