“I love the job, it is very rewarding,” he said. “But having to commit to another four years in office entails a lot of time and effort. I am not prepared to make that kind of commitment.”
For 24 years, Phillips has been representing the area, one of the city’s most multicultural areas.
He first entered provincial politics in 1987, when he was voted into the legislature to represent Scarborough-Agincourt.
“I started off being in business — I opened up three companies and had 300 employees,” he said. “I entered politics because I found it to be more rewarding. You get to influence lots of people’s lives and with that there is personal satisfaction as well.”
He also served as the head of the old Scarborough Board of Education and board of governors for the Scarborough Hospital.
In Liberal premier David Peterson’s government, Phillips served as minister of both citizenship and labour portfolios.
Later, while in opposition to the Progressive Conservative government, he was finance and native affairs critic.
Phillips listed the Veterans’ Memorial on the lawn of Queen’s Park as one of the tasks he was most proud of having had a hand in bulding.
“He is a very hardworking, intelligent and fair man of great integrity,” said Susie Dell, scheduling assistant to Phillips, who was her boss for more than two decades. “I consider him as a close friend.”
Phillips was instrumental in the formation of the 2003 inquiry into the 1995 shooting death of native protester Dudley George at Ipperwash Provincial Park, she said.
Ward 39 councillor Mike Del Grande wished Phillips well after his retirement.
“He was responsible for improving healthcare at local hospitals in the area,” he said. “I have often complimented him on that.”
Ward 40 councillor Norm Kelly, who worked with Phillips while representing the southern half of Scarborough-Agincourt, said Phillips always took a balanced approach.
“If you have worked with him, you would know that he is a fair, reasonable and balanced individual,” Kelly said.
He’s also a hockey fan, Kelly recalled. He said he remembered conversations he’d had with Phillips about the Toronto Maple Leafs.