- James McGrath
As a young man, McGrath was a member of the
Responsible Government Leaguewhich opposed Newfoundland joining Canadian Confederation. Nevertheless, upon the province's joining confederation in 1949, McGrath left to enlist with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He returned to Newfoundland in 1953 and became sales manager with radio station CJON. In 1955, he became secretary of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party association. In 1956, he ran unsuccessfully for the party in the provincial election.
He entered federal politics the next year, and won a seat in the
Canadian House of Commonsin the 1957 election as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament(MP) for St. John's East. In 1962, McGrath became parliamentary secretaryto the Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys, and served in that position until he was defeated along with the Diefenbaker government in the 1963 election.
McGrath regained his seat in the 1968 election, and remained in parliament through five subsequent elections.
When the Progressive Conservatives formedthe government following the 1979 election, Prime Minister
Joe Clarkappointed him Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. McGrath returned to the opposition bench when Clark's minority governmentwas defeated in the 1980 election.
McGrath was not included in the Cabinet when the Tories returned to power in the 1984 election under
Brian Mulroney. It has been rumoured that this was due to the influence of McGrath's rival in Newfoundland, John Crosbie. Instead, McGrath was appointed chairman of the Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons. The report he authored led to a number of procedural changes, including the introduction of election by secret ballot for the position of Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons. McGrath also served as chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights.
In August 1986, McGrath left politics to accept an appointment as
Lieutenant-Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador. He retired from the position in 1991.
* [http://www.heritage.nf.ca/govhouse/governors/g76.html Biography at Government House "The Governorship of Newfoundland and Labrador"]
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