John Robarts

John Robarts

Infobox President
name = John Parmenter Robarts


caption = The Hon. John Parmenter Robarts
birth_date = birth date|1917|1|11|mf=y
birth_place = Banff, Alberta
residence =
death_date = death date and age|1982|10|18|1917|01|11
death_place = Toronto, Ontario
order = 17th Premier of Ontario
term_start = November 08, 1961
term_end = March 01, 1971
predecessor = Leslie Frost
successor = Bill Davis
party = Ontario PC Party
religion =
spouse = Norah McCormick
Katherine Sickafuse

John Parmenter Robarts, PC , CC , QC (January 11, 1917October 18, 1982) was a Canadian lawyer and statesman, and Premier of Ontario.

Robarts was born in Banff, Alberta, making him the only Ontario premier not to have been born in Ontario. As a young man, he moved to London, Ontario with his family, where he studied at Central Collegiate (today, London Central Secondary School) and the University of Western Ontario. While attending Wetern he joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity.

He enrolled to study law at Osgoode Hall Law School but his education was interrupted by service with the Royal Canadian Navy during the World War II. He served as an officer on the HMS Uganda. After the war, he returned to university, graduating in 1948.

He practiced law in London, Ontario, and was elected a city alderman. In 1951, he was elected as an Ontario Progressive Conservative Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from the city. He entered the cabinet of Leslie Frost in 1958 as minister without portfolio and was promoted to Minister of Education in 1959.

In 1961, he became the 17th premier of Ontario, and served in that capacity until 1971. A popular and well-respected leader, Robarts epitomized power and dignity. He was an advocate of individual freedoms and promoted the rights of the provinces against the centralizing initiatives of the federal government while also promoting national unity against Quebec separatism and hosted the 1967 "Confederation of Tomorrow" conference in Toronto in an unsuccessful attempt to achieve an agreement for a new Constitution of Canada.

He initially opposed Canadian Medicare when it was proposed, but later endorsed it fully following NDP candidate Kenneth Bolton upset by-election victory on the issue in the London-area riding of Middlesex South.

As a civil libertarian, and a strong believer in the promotion of both official languages, Robarts opened the door to French education in Ontario schools. In 1972 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.

Remembered for his steps to promote and improve education, he was responsible for the construction of York University, the Ontario Science Centre, the expansion of numerous teacher colleges, and launching the Ontario Scholarship fund.

In 1976, as a member of the board of directors of an expansion Major League Baseball team in Toronto, which was going through a name selection process, there was a line in his talk about his morning one day ("I looked outside and saw a blue jay outside my window), another director picked up on "blue jay", a name that had not been thought about, and the baseball team was eventually named the "Toronto Blue Jays".

After retiring from office, John Robarts co-chaired the Task Force on Canadian Unity with Jean-Luc Pépin before joining the boards of directors of several major corporations.

Later in his life, he suffered a series of debilitating strokes, and committed suicide on October 18, 1982.

The John P. Robarts Research Institute (renamed The Robarts Research Institute in 2005) at the University of Western Ontario was officially opened in 1986. He served as Chancellor of UWO from 1971 to 1976. Also in London is the Robarts School for the Deaf (http://www.robartsschool.ca/), and the John P. Robarts elementary school. The 14-storey John P. Robarts library at the University of Toronto is also named in his honour.

Steve Paikin wrote a biography, "Public Triumph, Private Tragedy: The Double Life of John P. Robarts" (Viking, 2005).


External links

* [http://www.gg.ca/honours/search-recherche/honours-desc.asp?lang=e&TypeID=orc&id=2262 Order of Canada Citation]

Preceded by:
Leslie Frost
Premier of Ontario
1961-1971
Succeeded by:
Bill Davis

[http://oneninefive.blogspot.com/2007/11/tribute-to-john-robarts.html Reference on John Robarts Death]


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