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Councillors remember Roger Anderson

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

Although best known for the no-nonsense approach he employed as the head of regional council, that was only one side of the late Roger Anderson.

This sometimes gruff exterior was one of the many memories shared by Anderson’s former colleagues prior to the April 11 council meeting.

A moment of silence was observed in memory of Anderson, who served as regional chair and CEO for 21 years.

He passed away March 24 after a year-and-a-half long battle with stomach cancer.

Fighting back tears, Oshawa Councillor Amy McQuaid-England recalled Anderson showing his softer side when interacting with her daughter.

McQuaid-England admitted that some of her supporters may have been put off by Anderson’s public personality, but for her, there was more to him than that.

While a member of student government at Durham College, McQuaid-England said Anderson was one of the first people who suggested she had potential to be a councillor.

And while the two didn’t see eye to eye on a number of issues, McQuaid-England said she learned a great deal from Anderson and regional council chambers are not the same without him.

Councillor Dan Carter said Anderson was always there for him and his family in times of need.

Stating they were on opposite sides of the political spectrum many times, Nester Pidwerbecki nevertheless commended Anderson’s drive to achieve goals.

“His attitude will live forever in council chambers,” he said.

Oshawa Mayor John Henry said Anderson’s impact would be remembered not only in Durham Region, but “coast to coast” across the country.

“His legacy is that of a prime minister for the work he was able to accomplish for municipalities,” Henry added.

Bob Chapman said his relationship with Anderson went through several phases.

Both were former officers with Durham Regional Police Service, but Chapman said as police board chair, Anderson was on the other side of the table when he stepped into a negotiating role.

He also marveled at how many people knew Anderson, recalling how the former regional chair was often approached for advice at conferences and conventions.

Other council members spoke on Anderson’s respect and dedication to his role as an ambassador for Durham Region.

“We’ve lost a chair who should be known as Mr. Durham,” noted Uxbridge Mayor Gerri Lynn O’ Connor.

Brock Township Mayor John Grant said it didn’t matter if a councillor was from a city of 100,000 people or a village of 1,200, Anderson treated everyone at the regional council table fairly.

Ajax Councillor Shaun Collier admitted he was opposed to Anderson continuing as chair in 2010, but he had been proved wrong for the past seven years.

“Nobody knew Durham like Roger,” he added.

Whitby Councillor Joe Drumm observed that he brought “respectability” to the region.

“The region needed a Roger Anderson, and Roger Anderson needed the region,” Drumm said.