Ontario Alumni Dinner - November 2, 2007

The fifth annual dinner saw the group move to The National Club at 303 Bay Street. Here a gathering of approximately 60 people spent a relaxed and enjoyable evening with our guest speaker, Steve Paikin of TV Ontario together with his wife Francesca and daughter Giulia.

The evening began in the customary way with John Payne providing a brief summary of the year's activities and then giving the toast to Canada. In particular, the committee had been invited to attend a reception of Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford, Princeton and Yale Alumni at the Spoke Club in May. This proved to be a very convivial affair and resulted in representatives of Oxford (Simon Chester and his wife Anna Tharyan) and Cambridge (Maggie Norman and Lindsay Shaddy) attending our dinner. Their presence may mark the start of a new direction for our alumni group, one marked by combined dinners and activities necessitated by the change in demographics, due to the decreasing numbers of alumni emigrating to Canada.

For our own gatherings, we had another well attended pub night close to Paddy's Day in P.J. O'Brien's on Colborne Street. There was also the opening of Ireland Park in June and the reception with Mary McAleese, the President of Ireland.

This year we again asked some long time supporters to deliver the toasts. Marcus Beresford began before the meal by giving the toast to Ireland, and Andy O'Breslin proposed the toast to Trinity. Between both Latin graces, which were said by Peter Hearn, the company sat down to stuffed Cornish hen followed by apple galette.

The guest speaker this year was Steve Paikin of TV Ontario. His is currently well known as the anchor and senior editor of TVO's new flagship current affairs program - The Agenda with Steve Paikin. Each evening, the program, which is live except for Fridays, deals with one or two current topics in some depth involving discussion and analysis between informed people. Prior to this he hosted TVO's Studio 2 and TVO's weekly foreign affairs series, Diplomatic Immunity, which began in 1998.

Steve has also produced several documentaries for TVO. In 1993, Return to The Warsaw Ghetto won the Silver Screen Award at the U.S. International Film and Video Festival as well as awards at Canada's Yorkton Film Festival and China's Shanghai Film Festival. He also went to Serbia, Croatia, and Bosnia and presented Balkan Madness in 1992. In 1996 Steve co-produced A Main Street Man, which chronicled the life of former Ontario premier William Davis. The Mike Harris government's controversial education reform Bill 160 was the subject of Teachers, Tories, and Turmoil in 1997. And Chairman of the Board: The Life and Death of John Robarts aired in 2001, on the occasion of the former Ontario premier's 40th anniversary of taking power.

In 2001, Steve wrote his first book, The Life: The Seductive Call of Politics for Penguin Canada. In 2003, he followed up with, The Dark Side: The Personal Price of a Political Life. His latest book, Public Triumph, Private Tragedy: The Double Life of John P. Robarts was published in March, 2005 and analyses the impact of former Ontario Premier John Robarts on the province.

This last book was the subject of Steve's speech to the group. He outlined the two sides of John Robarts life the political triumphs such as the Ontario Science Centre, five Universities and GO transit to the difficulties in his private life ending in his 1982 suicide. At the end Steve answered questions from the floor, which ranged from Robarts' portrait at Queens Park to today's politics.

The evening concluded with Kevin Harraher thanking Steve and presenting him with two books Trinity College Dublin: A Beautiful Place and Trinity College Dublin: the First 400 Years by J. V. Luce.

As last year, special thanks are due to John Cary for taking care of the detailed arrangements with the National Club and for his excellent choice of menu and wines, and also to Bill McConnell for assisting with the organization and communicating with alumni.

John Payne

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