Ernie Eves
Ernest Lawrence "Ernie" Eves (born June 17, 1946) was the 23rd Premier
Premier of Ontario
The Premier of Ontario is the first Minister of the Crown for the Canadian province of Ontario. The Premier is appointed as the province's head of government by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, and presides over the Executive council, or Cabinet. The Executive Council Act The Premier of Ontario...

 of the province of Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, from April 15, 2002, to October 23, 2003.


Eves was born into a working class family in Windsor, Ontario
Windsor, Ontario
Windsor is the southernmost city in Canada and is located in Southwestern Ontario at the western end of the heavily populated Quebec City – Windsor Corridor. It is within Essex County, Ontario, although administratively separated from the county government. Separated by the Detroit River, Windsor...

, in 1946, the son of Julie (née Hawrelechko) and Harry Louis Eves, a factory worker. His maternal grandparents were Ukrainian. As a teenager, Eves moved with his family to the northern Ontario town of Parry Sound
Parry Sound, Ontario
Parry Sound is a town in Central Ontario, Canada, located on Parry Sound on the eastern shore of Georgian Bay. Parry Sound is located south of Sudbury and north of Toronto. It is the seat of Parry Sound District, a popular cottage country region for Southern Ontario residents. It is also the...

. Eves went to Osgoode Hall Law School
Osgoode Hall Law School
Osgoode Hall Law School is a Canadian law school, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and affiliated with York University. Named after the first Chief Justice of Ontario, William Osgoode, the law school was established by The Law Society of Upper Canada in 1889 and was the only accredited law...

, was called to the bar in 1972, and practiced with the firm of Green and Eves. In 1981, he ran for provincial parliament in the riding of Parry Sound
Parry Sound (electoral district)
Parry Sound was a federal electoral district represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1904 to 1949. It was located in the province of Ontario...

. He defeated Liberal
Ontario Liberal Party
The Ontario Liberal Party is a provincial political party in the province of Ontario, Canada. It has formed the Government of Ontario since the provincial election of 2003. The party is ideologically aligned with the Liberal Party of Canada but the two parties are organizationally independent and...

 candidate Richard Thomas by only six votes (leading to the nickname "Landslide Ernie") but went on to keep the seat for twenty years.

Eves was a cabinet minister
Cabinet (government)
A Cabinet is a body of high ranking government officials, typically representing the executive branch. It can also sometimes be referred to as the Council of Ministers, an Executive Council, or an Executive Committee.- Overview :...

 in the short-lived government of Frank Miller, serving as Provincial Secretary for Resources Development from February 8 to March 22, 1985, Minister of Skills Development from March 22 to May 17, 1985, and Minister of Community and Social Services from May 17 to June 26, 1985. As Minister of Skills Development, Eves was also the minister responsible for Native Affairs. In this capacity, he made history in 1985 by proclaiming Ontario as favouring native self-government. He left cabinet on the defeat of the Miller ministry in the legislature, and served as an opposition Members of Provincial Parliament (MPP) until the Progressive Conservatives returned to power in 1995.

The Harris years

Eves is a long time close friend of fellow northern Ontario MPP Mike Harris
Mike Harris
Michael Deane "Mike" Harris was the 22nd Premier of Ontario from June 26, 1995 to April 15, 2002. He is most noted for the "Common Sense Revolution", his Progressive Conservative government's program of deficit reduction in combination with lower taxes and cuts to government...

. In 1990, Eves backed Harris' bid for the party leadership. In 1995, after being elected on the "Common Sense Revolution
Common Sense Revolution
The phrase Common Sense Revolution has been used as a political slogan to describe common sense conservative platforms in Australia and the U.S. state of New Jersey in the 1990s. Based on the Singapore Model of economics, its main goal is to reduce taxes while balancing the budget by reducing the...

", a Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

-style program of tax cuts and government cutbacks, Eves was appointed Harris' Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier.

In Finance, Eves supervised significant cuts to taxes and public spending, particularly in the field of social assistance. Provincial income taxes were cut by 30% and welfare rates were reduced by 22%, resulting in 500,000 people being cut from the Ontario welfare rolls. There were also cuts to education and health services. The Harris government justified these measures as necessary to eliminate the provincial deficit.

After initially adopting a policy of restraint toward health care costs, Eves' later budgets increased health spending. He eventually succeeded in balancing the budget early in the government's second term.

As Minister of Finance, Eves also oversaw two controversial privatization initiatives: the long-term lease of the Bruce nuclear generating station to British Energy
British Energy
British Energy was the UK's largest electricity generation company by volume, before being taken over by Électricité de France in 2009. British Energy operated eight former UK state-owned nuclear power stations and one coal fired power station....

 and the 99-year lease of Highway 407 to a consortium of mainly foreign investors.

Upon his retirement, Eves claimed that the impact of his 22% reduction in welfare rates "kept him up at night." There have also been reports that Eves was conflicted about the risks of adding $22 billion to the provincial debt by cutting taxes before balancing the budget. Some believe that Eves was responsible for restraining some of Harris' more radical initiatives during their time in office.

Despite the close friendship and similar backgrounds and beliefs of Harris and Eves, the two have very different public personae. While Harris tried to be the embodiment of a grass-roots politician, Eves was just the opposite. He was always meticulously well-turned-out in expensive suits, with court-filings revealing he spent $25,000 a year on clothing, $5,000 a year on jewelry and cufflinks and $700 a month on dry cleaning. Eves also sported a slicked-back hair style that reinforced his image as a "slick" politician.

Eves' personal life in the last few years of the Harris government was tumultuous. His son, Justin, was killed in a traffic accident in Parry Sound, and soon after his long-standing marriage broke down. Eves began a relationship with a fellow cabinet colleague, Isabel Bassett
Isabel Bassett
Isabel Bassett is a Canadian broadcaster and former politician. From 1999 until 2005 she was the chair and CEO of TVOntario/TFO, Ontario's provincial public television network. She has been a controversial figure at times, but is also a highly regarded pioneer in Canadian...

, and he and his wife separated. On February 8, 2001 Eves decided to resign from his post of Finance Minister to seek opportunities in the private sector. He became vice-chair of the investment bank Credit Suisse First Boston and senior partner at a prominent Toronto law firm.

In a March 2001 by-election, he was replaced as MPP for the riding
Electoral district (Canada)
An electoral district in Canada, also known as a constituency or a riding, is a geographical constituency upon which Canada's representative democracy is based...

 of Parry Sound-Muskoka by Norm Miller
Norm Miller
Norm Miller is a politician in Ontario, Canada. He is a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, representing the riding of Parry Sound—Muskoka for the Progressive Conservatives...

, son of former Premier Frank Miller
Frank Miller (politician)
Frank Stuart Miller, was a Canadian politician, who served as the 19th Premier of Ontario for four months in 1985.-Early life and political career:...


Return to politics

His retirement was brief, however. When Mike Harris stepped down as Conservative leader, Eves decided to run in the 2002 Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership election
Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership election, 2002
The 2002 Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership election was a leadership election called in the fall of 2001 when Ontario Progressive Conservative Party Premier Mike Harris announced his intention to resign....

. Eves immediately became the front-runner and most Tory
Toryism is a traditionalist and conservative political philosophy which grew out of the Cavalier faction in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. It is a prominent ideology in the politics of the United Kingdom, but also features in parts of The Commonwealth, particularly in Canada...

 MPPs and members of the party came to support him. Eves staved off a determined run by his successor at Finance, Jim Flaherty
Jim Flaherty
James Michael "Jim" Flaherty, PC, MP is Canada's Minister of Finance and he has also served as Ontario's Minister of Finance. From 1995 until 2005, he was the Member of Provincial Parliament for Whitby—Ajax, and a member of the Progressive Conservative Party caucus...

, who pushed a hard-right agenda to appeal to the party's grassroots. Flaherty's campaign featured scathing attacks on Eves, calling him a "serial waffler" and a "pale, pink imitation of Dalton McGuinty." Eves became leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party on March 23, 2002, following a second-ballot victory.


Eves was sworn in as Ontario's 23rd Premier on April 15, 2002, and returned to the legislature as the member for Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey
Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey was a federal electoral district in Ontario, Canada, that was represented in the Canadian House of Commons from 1997 to 2004.-Federal electoral district:...

 after a by-election on May 2, 2002.

His time in office was a difficult one, however; the government was still trying to recover from the Walkerton Tragedy
Walkerton Tragedy
The Walkerton Tragedy is a series of events that accompanied the contamination of the water supply of Walkerton, Ontario, Canada, by E. coli bacteria in May 2000.-Summary:Walkerton is a relatively small community located in Ontario...

, where seven people died from contaminated water, when fresh problems broke out. The most severe of these was the move to a competitive market in the power system. Cost over-runs at nuclear reactors and a very hot summer combined with problems in market regulation to drive hydro prices up significantly (particularly in northern Ontario). The government was forced to cancel the privatization and capped hydro rates below cost, billing the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

In late 2002, cabinet minister Cam Jackson
Cam Jackson
Cameron "Cam" Jackson is a Canadian politician. A Progressive Conservative, he was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1985, and held the office of Member of Provincial Parliament for Burlington until his resignation on September 28, 2006 to run for mayor of Burlington in the...

 was forced to resign when the Liberals alleged he had spent more than $100,000 on meals and alcohol in expensive restaurants and in four star Toronto hotels. Jackson was later fully exonerated of allegations of wrongdoing. Eves was also caught unaware when the Liberals broke that Mike Harris had arranged a secret tax break for professional sports teams on his last day in office.

In December 2002, a coroner's inquest
Inquests in England and Wales are held into sudden and unexplained deaths and also into the circumstances of discovery of a certain class of valuable artefacts known as "treasure trove"...

 into the death of Kimberly Rogers
Kimberly Rogers
Kimberly Rogers was a Canadian whose death in 2001, while under house arrest for welfare fraud, caused extensive controversy around Ontario Works...

 recommended numerous changes to the government's welfare legislation, which Community and Social Services Minister
Ministry of Community and Social Services (Ontario)
The Ministry of Community and Social Services in the Canadian province of Ontario is responsible for social services such as welfare, and disability insurance and community service programs around issues such as homelessness, domestic violence, spousal support, adoption, and assisted housing for...

 Brenda Elliott
Brenda Elliott
Brenda Elliott is a politician in Ontario, Canada. She served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as a Progressive Conservative from 1995 to 2003, and was a cabinet minister in the governments of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves....

 dismissed as unnecessary tinkering with a system that "was working effectively".

Concerned about returning to the Legislature, Eves' advisors instead hatched a public relations disaster. They convinced the Premier to have Minister of Finance Janet Ecker
Janet Ecker
Janet Ecker is a politician in Ontario, Canada. She was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1995 to 2003, and was a senior cabinet minister in the governments of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves.-Background:...

 present the government's 2003 budget at a televised press conference at the headquarters of auto parts maker Magna International, instead of in the legislature. Magna's CEO was prominent Tory supporter Belinda Stronach
Belinda Stronach
Belinda Caroline Stronach, PC is a Canadian businessperson, philanthropist and former politician. She was a Member of Parliament in the Canadian House of Commons from 2004 to 2008. Originally elected as a Conservative, she later crossed the floor to join the Liberals...

, who later became a Liberal cabinet minister at the federal level. The "Magna Budget" resulted in accusations that the government was trying to avoid the scrutiny of the legislature and was flouting centuries of parliamentary tradition in favour of a PR stunt. Furthermore, the expense of this move was condemned as a waste of money considering that the legislative chamber was already equipped with video equipment for televised coverage. The "Magna Budget" was intended to launch a provincial election campaign, but was so poorly received that the election was delayed until the autumn. Attacks came from not only the opposition parties and the media but from one of Eves' own party members, Gary Carr
Gary Carr
Gary Carr is a politician in Ontario, Canada. He served as a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 2003, and served in the Canadian House of Commons as a Liberal from 2004 to early 2006...

. As Speaker
Speaker (politics)
The term speaker is a title often given to the presiding officer of a deliberative assembly, especially a legislative body. The speaker's official role is to moderate debate, make rulings on procedure, announce the results of votes, and the like. The speaker decides who may speak and has the...

 of the legislature, Carr ruled that the government's actions were prima facie
Prima facie
Prima facie is a Latin expression meaning on its first encounter, first blush, or at first sight. The literal translation would be "at first face", from the feminine form of primus and facies , both in the ablative case. It is used in modern legal English to signify that on first examination, a...

in contempt of the legislature. (Subsequently, the PC majority in the Legislature voted to overturn Carr's ruling.) The budget also included several assumptions that led many commentators to believe the government was in fact running a deficit in the range of $2 billion.

Soon after the budget, Energy Minister Chris Stockwell
Chris Stockwell
Chris Stockwell is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. He was a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 2003, and served as a cabinet minister in the governments of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. Before entering provincial politics, he had been a...

 ran into trouble when he allowed a company he regulated to pay for a family trip to Europe. After several weeks of front-page news on the scandal and an unfavourable ruling from the province's Integrity Commissioner
Office of the Integrity Commissioner (Ontario)
The Office of the Integrity Commissioner for the Province of Ontario is responsible to prevent ethics violations before they occur for members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.-Integrity Commissioners:* Lynn Morrison...

, Eves forced Stockwell to resign.

In the summer of 2003, the power issue caused further trouble for Eves. During its time in office, the Tory government had failed to make any substantial investments in new sources of power. Warm weather and the use of air conditioners pushed the Ontario hydro grid to the brink, and after the 2003 North America blackout, the provincial power utility was forced to buy expensive power from neighbouring producers in Quebec
Quebec or is a province in east-central Canada. It is the only Canadian province with a predominantly French-speaking population and the only one whose sole official language is French at the provincial level....

. During that time, Eves made daily television appearances announcing developments in the situation, and appealing to the public to conserve as much electricity as possible during the period. As a result of this exposure, Eves enjoyed a moderate uptick in the polls.

2003 election

In September 2003, Eves called an election
Ontario general election, 2003
The Ontario general election of 2003 was held on October 2, 2003, to elect the 103 members of the 38th Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, Canada....

 for October 2, 2003. While exposure from the blackout had boosted the PCs into a short-lived tie with Dalton McGuinty
Dalton McGuinty
Dalton James Patrick McGuinty, Jr., MPP is a Canadian lawyer, politician and, since October 23, 2003, the 24th and current Premier of the Canadian province of Ontario....

's Liberals in the polls, and despite the reputation of the Ontario Tories for increasing their support base in mid-campaign, Eves had trouble convincing voters that his party deserved to stay in office. The Tories had released their platform, "The Road Ahead", in May. Eves had hired many of Harris' advisers for the campaign, and they drafted a platform that was closer to Flaherty's (and Harris') views than those of Eves. Eves was visibly uncomfortable defending policy proposals that he had opposed a year earlier. When a Tory campaign staffer distributed a press release referring to McGuinty as an "evil reptilian kitten-eater from another planet", many voters were turned off by the attack.

In contrast, the Liberals ran a highly focused, disciplined campaign on the simple theme of "Choose Change". They had spent the last four years positioning themselves as the government in waiting. McGuinty appeared ready for the office of Premier and tapped into voter frustration over deteriorating public services and the needless conflict of the Harris/Eves governments. Eves was unable to make any headway in the leadership debate, appearing uncharacteristically restrained in the face of criticism from McGuinty, and was unable to revive support for his party in the final days of the campaign.

On October 2, 2003, the Liberals won 72 of the 103 seats in the Legislature, and Eves' Tories won just 24. However, as a sign of his personal strength, Eves won his own seat by the largest margin of any PC candidate.


Eves' time as Opposition leader was more fruitful, when he led attacks against the McGuinty government's first budget, particularly the Ontario Health Premium —which broke the Liberals' campaign pledge not to raise taxes and the elimination of health services such as eye examinations and physical therapy. Despite being considered a lame-duck leader, Eves led in opinion polls for that period of time.

In early 2004, Eves announced his intention to resign prior to the fall 2004 legislative session. A leadership election
Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership election, 2004
On January 23, 2004, the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leader Ernie Eves announced his intention to step down as leader before the fall of 2004. Eves was elected party leader in the party's 2002 leadership election, and became Premier of Ontario...

 chose John Tory
John Tory
John Howard Tory is a Canadian businessman, political activist, former leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, former Member of Provincial Parliament and broadcaster...

 as Eves' successor on September 18, 2004; Eves was officially neutral in the contest. Tory and Eves share a number of attributes, both coming from the so-called Red Tory
Red Tory
A red Tory is an adherent of a particular political philosophy, tradition, and disposition in Canada somewhat similar to the High Tory tradition in the United Kingdom; it is contrasted with "blue Tory". In Canada, the phenomenon of "red toryism" has fundamentally, if not exclusively, been found in...

 wing of the party.

Eves had been widely expected to resign his seat in the provincial legislature during the 2004 Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 holidays in order to allow Tory an opportunity to enter the Ontario legislature through a by-election. Eves' resignation was not forthcoming, however. After staff in Tory's office leaked Eves' impending resignation, Eves reportedly refused to resign, thereby undercutting the new leader's credibility. Another report contends that Eves was refusing to resign before securing an appointment to the Canadian Senate
Canadian Senate
The Senate of Canada is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the House of Commons, and the monarch . The Senate consists of 105 members appointed by the governor general on the advice of the prime minister...

 or to a public board. As federal and provincial patronage
Patronage is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another. In the history of art, arts patronage refers to the support that kings or popes have provided to musicians, painters, and sculptors...

 appointments were in the hands of Liberals, it would have been difficult for John Tory to persuade either the provincial or federal government to make such an appointment.

On January 31, 2005, Eves resigned his seat in the provincial legislature. Although he had received several high profile job offers from the private sector after stepping down as leader, he had reportedly turned them down. In 2007 he joined Jacob & Company Securities Inc, a Toronto based boutique investment bank, as Executive Chairman.

Federal politics

For many years, Eves was known as the most prominent supporter of the federal Progressive Conservative Party
Progressive Conservative Party of Canada
The Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was a Canadian political party with a centre-right stance on economic issues and, after the 1970s, a centrist stance on social issues....

 in Mike Harris
Mike Harris
Michael Deane "Mike" Harris was the 22nd Premier of Ontario from June 26, 1995 to April 15, 2002. He is most noted for the "Common Sense Revolution", his Progressive Conservative government's program of deficit reduction in combination with lower taxes and cuts to government...

's government. He had supported Joe Clark
Joe Clark
Charles Joseph "Joe" Clark, is a Canadian statesman, businessman, and university professor, and former journalist and politician...

 from the first ballot at the party's 1976 leadership convention
Progressive Conservative leadership convention, 1976
The 1976 leadership election of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada was held in Ottawa on February 22, 1976, to elect a leader to replace Robert Stanfield, who had resigned after losing the 1968, 1972, and 1974 elections. It unexpectedly elected a 36-year-old, little-known PC Member of...

, and continued to support the federal Tories in the 1990s despite the rise of the Reform Party
Reform Party of Canada
The Reform Party of Canada was a Canadian federal political party that existed from 1987 to 2000. It was originally founded as a Western Canada-based protest party, but attempted to expand eastward in the 1990s. It viewed itself as a populist party....

 as a rival right-wing force. He endorsed Hugh Segal
Hugh Segal
Hugh Segal, CM is a Canadian senator, political strategist, author, and commentator. Segal is credited with helping Stephen Harper become Prime Minister by moderating his image.-Life and career:...

's bid for the leadership of the federal party in 1998.

Eves took out a membership in the Canadian Alliance
Canadian Alliance
The Canadian Alliance , formally the Canadian Reform Conservative Alliance , was a Canadian conservative political party that existed from 2000 to 2003. The party was the successor to the Reform Party of Canada and inherited its position as the Official Opposition in the House of Commons and held...

 in 2000 to support Tom Long's leadership bid, but rejoined the Tories after Stockwell Day
Stockwell Day
Stockwell Burt Day, Jr., PC, MP is a former Canadian politician, and a member of the Conservative Party of Canada. He is a former cabinet minister in Alberta, and a former leader of the Canadian Alliance. Day was MP for the riding of Okanagan—Coquihalla in British Columbia and the president of...

 was chosen as the Canadian Alliance leader. During the 2002 Ontario PC Party leadership race, Eves and his supporters invited federal PC Party leader Joe Clark to attend as an honorary delegate. No such invitation was extended by any camp to the newly minted Canadian Alliance leader and future Tory leader Stephen Harper
Stephen Harper
Stephen Joseph Harper is the 22nd and current Prime Minister of Canada and leader of the Conservative Party. Harper became prime minister when his party formed a minority government after the 2006 federal election...

. Harper did, however, attend the provincial PC convention in late 2004 as leader of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Eves's support of the new Conservative Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
The Conservative Party of Canada , is a political party in Canada which was formed by the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada in 2003. It is positioned on the right of the Canadian political spectrum...

 has been somewhat lukewarm, in that he made a number of comments favourable to the Liberal
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada , colloquially known as the Grits, is the oldest federally registered party in Canada. In the conventional political spectrum, the party sits between the centre and the centre-left. Historically the Liberal Party has positioned itself to the left of the Conservative...

 government of Paul Martin
Paul Martin
Paul Edgar Philippe Martin, PC , also known as Paul Martin, Jr. is a Canadian politician who was the 21st Prime Minister of Canada, as well as leader of the Liberal Party of Canada....

 in 2003 and 2004.

External links

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