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Former Caledon mayor discusses her life, politics, and the future

September 5, 2019   ·   0 Comments

Written By CONSTANCE SCRAFIELD

Even as a very young person, she was inclined to work with people at odds with each other, using her innate talent to moderate and bring compromise.

Putting the philosophical basis of her life into words, Carol Seglins stated, “I’ve just done that all my life. I reached points where I can make things work. It’s been my motto, I guess, at the more difficult times in my life and that’s been my life: look at the options and see how can I accomplish the most, the best use of our energies.”

Carol Seglins was born in Toronto; raised in Sudbury.

“In high school, I did math and sciences. Although I had wanted to go in to medicine, I fell in love with somebody and decided I would rather go into the arts. I raised my children while I was going to university, doing arts and a few sciences,” she told the Citizen. “At that point where I had two children, Peter and Jonathan, we decided we wanted to buy a house. In Toronto, all my relatives lived in North York. We couldn’t afford that, so, we came to Caledon and bought the house where I still live, now 52 years later.”

She earned her Arts degree at the University of Toronto, but there was more to come.

“We were in a car accident and they required more attention than I could do if I was working. I stayed with the kids at home and did a Bachelor of Commerce at York University at night. During my time at York, I had two morechildren, David and Jennifer. 

“By the time I finished it, my husband and I were managing a company, Seglins and Associates. My husband committed suicide. Peter’s head injuries turned into brain tumours.”

She freely admitted, “This was not an easy time and I had to call on other strengths.”

With that “chapter closed, I met Ralph Ransom. He taught [travel agents] and wanted to set up a travel agency in Bolton and he asked me, would I work for him, if he opened one.”

She continued, “I had no experience but I can certainly learn and from a person who teaches it. He agreed but I said I wanted 50 percent of the business. When he retired and came into the travel agency, I decided we didn’t need two full-time employees.

“It was getting to be election time, in 1988, and I looked around at what it took, if my interest in community was broad enough to win an election. So, I put my name forward and won the election. During that time I represented Bolton in both town [Bolton] and Peel Regional Councils.”

Her son, Peter, had since passed away and, by 1994, “in that year, I could broaden my interests further and so I ran for mayor. I was interested with all the different health services in the community: seniors, kids; you could see that families needed support.”

She said, “I loved the work. You start at home and take it from there.”

“I was very heartened by the support and was Regional Councillor for two terms and Mayor of Caledon for three terms. I was determined to look at ways to pull the community together.”

Historically, “Caledon is what it is today, and has been since the region was formed. How can we work best to have services throughout areas and be affordable, and how can we protect the environment? These are questions you’re often asked and think about yourself.” 

Carol was Mayor from 1994 to 2003, while previously serving as a Regional Councillor from 1988 to 1994. .”

She was emphatic, “Voting is a really important responsibility that each of us has and, when we don’t understand the issues, we should be looking to understand them.

“Ralph passed away at the end of 2002. Really, being mayor is a 24-hour a day job if you’re going to do a good job. I think everybody should step up and do their part over time. I thought it would better for someone else to come on board; so, I did not put my name forward at the next election.”

She remarked wisely, “It shouldn’t be about a person; it ‘s about responsibilities. It’s also important to reach out and find out what those people are like. The responsibility on citizens is to know that those people they’re electing are the people that can do the job.

“Coming up is, at Ryerson University, A Time for Heroic Citizenship. [Look it up under that title, for information.] It’s about the real threats to our democracy: how do we do them [elections] and ensure that we have democracy? There are so many things that one can do in this great country.” 

Of those running for election, “Make sure that they’re the kind of persons that are interested in creating the kind of society that we want to be part of. So we find ways; I didn’t know that this workshop is coming up – you keep your ears open. You do the outreach; you think something needs improvement, so, you ask the questions and you get involved. You find answers on ways to tackle challenges.”

The role of social media has changed the game for politicians – both local, and on the bigger stage, and not necessarily for the better. 

“Too many people are really interested in solutions. They jump to conclusions without asking questions, whether the thing they’re reading – is it the truth and offering solutions?

“It can be helpful but it can be dangerous. You have to really try to understand what a person is saying within social media. I have a LinkedIn account to keep up with people who are doing interesting things. Facebook, a lot of it is people trying to show off what they can purchase, rather than their real interest in people they’re connecting with. I keep in touch with people but not the way people generally do.”

A joy but ever with an eye to bigger issues, “I’ve been hiking this spring. I’d like to get involved in more hiking opportunities, make sure that it’s there for future generations. I’ve been involved in a lot of environmental protection issues over the years. With hiking, the realization puts you in touch with the atmosphere, the wildlife and the need to think about their importance, to think about the green spaces, like the Oak Ridges Moraine Trail. Those are the people who had the foresight to make these trails and who is going to see that they continue in the future? Kids need to take science courses to see that those trails are important and need to remain.”

Shifting, she told us, “It reminds me of another thing. I went to a lecture at the university and I signed up to participate in a medical study that one of the people wanted me to do -I got involved and participated.”

Referencing those in government today, Carol indicated we need to be more patient rather than continuously being negative about politics.

“The people that run for public office are people; they don’t have all the answers. So it’s up to us make sure that they understand the issues; they don’t have the answers to everything.”

She urged, “People have to be open minded and looking for new ideas, looking for answers to conundrums about to what we ‘re facing. How can we work together to find ways for the whole communities?”

About our legacies, what can matter is “the things that you do with your grandchildren – you try to stimulate people’s curiosity. I took my grandchildren to the Planetarium, to the ROM, McMichael’s Gallery, ensuring that you are part of your community, how to precipitate in it, contribute to it.” 

She indicated the key is to get the younger people interested in important issues.

“Are young people involved? I think they love to be involved when they’re introduced to it. They’re on their iPads and are missing that their friends don’t have all the answers; its important for them to have a broader view. We only do that by looking around. They need some leadership that is not just their friends and do the things are that are not everyday. 

“We can’t do everything but you can do and you can go. You get much more satisfaction in life by thinking like this, broadening horizons.”
Carol Seglins commented, “The ability to read over the last year has been wonderful. I have a book I bought in India about life in India. It’s unnerving just how complicated life is there.”



         

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