“Mostly I wanted to move back to Sudbury,” Davidson said Tuesday morning, about why he's stepping down as deputy minister with the provincial Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
“I have to say it's been an absolutely incredible experience, and certainly one I'm very appreciative of. But things run their course, and I'm starting to shift my sights a little bit.”
Davidson was chief of Greater Sudbury Police Services until 2009, when he left to work for the province. He became a deputy minister in 2010, when Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci became minister. His history with Bartolucci, who is retiring when the next election is called, has led to speculation Davidson could run for the Liberal nomination in Sudbury.
He would be facing Ward 1 Coun. Joe Cimino, whose NDP party has a strong lead in Sudbury, according to the most recent opinion polls, former school board trustee Paula Peroni, who's running for the Conservatives, as well as Green Party candidate Casey Lalonde, a Laurentian University student.
But Davidson said he's unsure if politics is a step he wants to take.
“I don't think that politics is in my future,” Davidson said. “I wouldn't say categorically, but I think right now I need to take a bit of a rest … But I don't think I'm geared for total retirement. I feel I've got a lot left, I'm just not sure in what capacity.”
He did say working in government brought him a different perspective on how things work, and that politics has always been a passion of his.
“Not because I have a long-term goal of being a politician, but because I have a penchant for leadership, creating change.
“How that will be applied, I'm not sure. Politics is a pretty ruthless game at times. Probably a lot of people wouldn't consider it, for that reason alone.”
He says his time in government gave him a new respect for Ontario's bureaucracy, which he said is nothing like the negative perception some people have.
“People tend to underestimate the Ontario public service – its commitment and effectiveness,” he said. “The public service is full of very dedicated, bright individuals who want to make a difference. Having the capacity to harness that number of people and resources was certainly a rewarding experience.”
Davidson's resume with the province since 2009 includes time as Ontario’s Commissioner of Community Safety, with oversight of the Office of the Fire Marshal, Public Safety Division and Emergency Management Ontario. He was appointed deputy minister in September 2010, a month after Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci was named minister by former Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty. As deputy minister, he was also Ontario’s deputy solicitor general.
According to a biography on the ministry's website, Davidson began his career as a police officer in Ottawa in 1978. He became a superintendent with Greater Sudbury Police in 1998, before being named chief in 2002. He was elected president of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police in 2008.
Davidson has a bachelor’s degree from Carleton University, where he majored in law. He is a graduate of the Ontario Police College, the Canadian Police College, the FBI National Academy, and the Rotman Police Leadership Program. He is also a certified municipal manager.