Larry Grossman

Larry Grossman

Lawrence "Larry" Sheldon Grossman (born December 2, 1943 in Toronto, Ontario; died June 1997) was a politician in Ontario, Canada, and a noted baseball fan.

Early years

Born in Toronto, Grossman was the son of Allan Grossman, who had represented a downtown Toronto riding in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario for twenty years after defeating Ontario's last Communist Member of Provincial Parliament, J. B. Salsberg.

Political career

The younger Grossman served in the Legislative Assembly as a Progressive Conservative from 1975 to 1987, and was a cabinet minister in the governments of Bill Davis and Frank Miller. Grossman was leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives from 1985 to 1987 [http://images.halinet.on.ca/details.asp?ID=5764&number=141] .

When the elder Grossman retired, Larry Grossman contested and won the seat of St. Andrew—St. Patrick in the 1975 election, defeating Ontario New Democratic Party candidate Barbara Beardsley by 419 votes. He was re-elected in the 1977, 1981 and 1985 elections.

After serving as parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General from 1975 to 1977, Grossman was appointed to cabinet on September 21, 1977 as Minister of Tourism (on October 18, 1978, the ministry was restyled as Industry and Tourism) [http://images.halinet.on.ca/details.asp?ID=5759&number=139] . He was promoted to the high-profile position of Health Minister on February 13, 1982, and was named Provincial Treasurer and Minister of Economics on July 6, 1983. In cabinet, Grossman's progressive views earned him a reputation as a Red Tory.

Leadership

When Davis announced his resignation as leader of the party and premier of the province, Grossman ran to succeed him. He was widely regarded as the most progressive candidate, and was endorsed by members of the party's Toronto-based Big Blue Machine. His supporters included Susan Fish, Russ Ramsay, Phil Gillies, Bruce McCaffrey and George Taylor. However, delegates to the party's January 1985 leadership convention chose the more conservative Frank Miller as leader. Grossman placed third on the first ballot, ahead of Roy McMurtry, but behind Miller and Dennis Timbrell. With the support of the McMurtry campaign, Grossman moved six votes ahead of Timbrell on the second ballot. It was speculated that the Miller campaign did not want the prospect of facing Timbrell on the final ballot, so some Miller delegates voted strategically for Grossman to ensure Timbrell's elimination.

Timbrell, who was a bitter rival of Grossman but also wanted to prevent a Miller victory, reluctantly endorsed Grossman after the results were confirmed by a recount. He did not bring enough delegates on the third ballot, however, and Grossman lost to Miller. Grossman remained the Provincial Treasurer in Miller's government.

Miller ran a disastrous campaign in the 1985 election, and the party was reduced to a fragile minority government. Grossman was appointed as Minister of Education and Minister of Colleges and Universities after the election, but was unable to accomplish anything of significance before Miller's government was defeated in the house.

Miller quickly resigned as leader, and Grossman was chosen as the new leader over Dennis Timbrell and Alan Pope at a second leadership convention on November 25 1985. Pope was forced on the defensive when one of his workers was caught polling party members as to whether religion would make a difference in the leadership race, which was seen as a reference to Grossman's Jewish background [http://collections.ic.gc.ca/heirloom_series/volume1/chapter5/184-189link4.htm] . Timbrell lost support when he declared his opposition to the full funding of Catholic schools, causing Norm Sterling to defect to Grossman's campaign. Grossman defeated Timbrell by only 19 votes on the second ballot, in a campaign that was marked by considerable acrimony.

Grossman became Leader of the Opposition to the minority government of Liberal Premier David Peterson.

End of political career

The Peterson government was very popular, and Grossman's Tories, in opposition for the first time since the 1940s, had a difficult time adjusting to their new role. When the Liberals called an early election for the fall of 1987, Grossman's Tories tried to campaign on a right-wing platform of tax cuts and reduced government spending. Grossman's history as a Red Tory made his new-found conservatism less than credible. Further, the voters were generally pleased with Peterson's performance as premier, and were not interested in returning to the Tories. Peterson won a majority government in the 1987 election, and the Conservatives were reduced from 52 seats to 16, falling to third place behind the Ontario New Democratic Party. Grossman lost his own seat to Ron Kanter and promptly resigned. The party selected Andy Brandt as interim leader.

Retirement and last years

He assisted new party leader Mike Harris in the 1990 provincial election, and coached him to stay "on-message" with the issue of tax cuts.

Grossman's political hero was Benjamin Disraeli, whose portrait was displayed on his office wall. Shortly after winning the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, he criticized American "neo-Conservatism" as "a shallow reconstitution of laissez-faire liberalism".

In 1997, Larry Grossman died at the age of 53 from brain cancer. He was named to the Order of Ontario shortly before his death. He left behind his three children Melissa, Jaimie and Robbie. He was divorced from Carole, their mother, at the time of his death.

In 2004, the Forest Hill Arena, a local Toronto hockey and skating rink where his children played was renamed the Larry Grossman Forest Hill Arena in his honour [http://www.bnaibrith.ca/article.php?id=803] .

External links

* [http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/members/members_all_detail.do?locale=en&ID=533 Ontario Legislature History]
* [http://www.ontla.on.ca/hansard/house_debates/36_parl/session1/L210a.htm#P95_28093 OLA Tribute to Larry Grossman]
* [http://www.empireclubfoundation.com/details.asp?SpeechID=1875&FT=yes "The Courage to Care"]
* [http://www.empireclubfoundation.com/details.asp?SpeechID=1551&FT=yes "Building the New Ontario"]

Preceded by:
Allan Grossman
PC MPP for St. Andrew—St. Patrick (1975-1987)Succeeded by:
Ronald M. Kanter

Preceded by:
Frank Stuart Miller
Treasurer of Ontario
1983-1985
Succeeded by:
Bette Stephenson

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