Tony Silipo

Tony Silipo

Tony Silipo (born August 10, 1957 in Martone, Calabria, Italy) is a former Canadian politician.

Silipo was educated at the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall at York University, and began practising law in 1984. He also served as a trustee on the Toronto Board of Education from 1978 to 1990, and was its chair from 1989 to 1990.

Silipo was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 1990 provincial election as the New Democratic Party Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the Toronto riding of Dovercourt. He joined the Bob Rae cabinet as Chair of the Management Board from July 31, 1991 to September 23, 1992, Minister of Education from October 15, 1991 to February 3, 1993 and Minister of Community and Social Services from February 3, 1993 to June 26, 1995.

As Education Minister, one of Silipo's first decisions was to restore national indictor achievement tests, which had previously been removed by his predecessor, Marion Boyd. He was also an active promoter of "de-streaming" and the integration of exceptional students into regular classrooms, policies which were opposed by most teachers.

Although Silipo supported the Rae government's austerity "Social Contract" legislation in 1993, he was generally regarded as one of the more left-leaning figures in the cabinet. In 1991, he was the only member of Rae's "inner cabinet" to recommend that the government introduce public automobile insurance to the province. In 1994, he spoke in cabinet against cuts to social assistance and the introduction of user fees for certain prescription drugs.

Silipo retained his seat in the 1995 election that defeated the Rae government. He ran for the leadership of the NDP in 1996, but was unable to build a strong support base and finished fourth behind Howard Hampton, Frances Lankin and Peter Kormos. Following the contest, Silipo was appointed deputy leader of the party.

In 1997, when the provincial government was passing a bill that would amalgamate the city of Toronto with surrounding municipalities, the NDP attempted to block the bill via a filibuster. Silipo introduced a list of 11,000 amendments, to be debated and voted on one at a time (many of the specific amendments were read by other party members), which held up the bill for a week and a half. []

Silipo lost his seat in the 1999 election in a hotly fought contest against Liberal MPP Tony Ruprecht in the riding of Davenport. The two MPPs were forced to run against each other due to the decision of Mike Harris's Progressive Conservative government to reduce the number of seats in the Ontario legislature.

After the election, Silipo called for cooperation between the opposition parties to defeat the Harris government. He was nonetheless appointed to the Workplace Safety and Insurance appeals tribunal by the Harris government in 2000. By 2003, he had also become president of the newly-formed Federation of Calabrese in Ontario.

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