By Jen Gerson
Democracy is about making choices. RyeSAC president-elect Dave MacLean has made some hard ones.
In his last year of high school, his father fell off a ladder at work, was taken to the hospital and put on life support. MacLean and his three siblings decided to pull the plug and end his father’s life.
“He told me to always make sure you do something good for people,” MacLean says, recalling a piece of advice that would change his life.
his mother left when he was a few months old so when his father died, MacLean went to live with a family who owned a Tim Hortons in North Bay, Ont. There he discovered his true passion for business.
He applied to the University of Western Ontario and the University of Ottawa. MacLean didn’t know anything about Ryerson but a friend told him it was a good school and he needed to fill in the third option on his university application form. MacLean says Western accepted letter two days late. His friends were going to Ottawa, so he decided to come here.
By frosh week he knew he had made the right choice.
“Tom Knowlton [the dean of the business school] was giving a speech and talking about how he wanted to give back to the community … I knew that if this school could attract a dean of that stature then I had come to the right place.”
four years ago, MacLean was voted craziest frosh of the year.
ten years from now he wouldn’t be surprised to see himself running for leadership of the Conservative Party, but he doesn’t like to be pegged as ‘right-wing.’ While MacLean does believe in fiscal responsibility, he sees himself as socially progressive.
“I guess I would be like a Paul Martin Liberal without the sponsorship scandal,” he says, referring to the Liberal government’s financial troubles.
MacLean wants to be a positive influence on this world. For the last two summers he’s worked at camps for kids with attention deficit disorder. He’s also attended leadership conferences that he describes as being life-altering experiences.
“If there is a common theme in my life, it’s building people. It’s weird how a simple idea turns into your whole goal, everything that you’re working for,” MacLean says.
But this would-be leader is no stranger to failure. Last year he lost the presidential race to RyeSAC President Ken Marciniec. Though last year’s election was rough, MacLean says he’s not bitter.
“Everything happens for a reason. Absolutely everything. There’s a reason why I didn’t win last year, and that was the Commerce Society,” he says. MacLean spent this year as the society’s founding president, a position that allowed him to develop a friendship with the man who unknowingly helped him out during frosh week — Knowlton.
But through his adventures, MacLean hasn’t forgotten his roots.
“A lot of people have helped me out. My dad has made a major impact on my life,” he says. “Poor guy. He could never say no to me.”
MacLean wears a reflective Tim Hortons wristband to remind him to respect the people who took him in and helped him. He wears it on his right hand, along with the braided bracelets he got at summer camp.
MacLean shrugs, “I guess I’m sentimental.”