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James Alexander Renwick

James Alexander Renwick

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James Alexander Renwick (November 29, 1917 — November 28, 1984) was a Canadian
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...

 politician. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Legislative Assembly of Ontario
The Legislative Assembly of Ontario , is the legislature of the Canadian province of Ontario, and is the second largest provincial legislature of Canada...

 from 1964 until his death.

Renwick came from a relatively privileged background. He attended Trinity College
University of Trinity College
The University of Trinity College, informally referred to as Trin, is a college of the University of Toronto, founded in 1851 by Bishop John Strachan. Trinity was intended by Strachan as a college of strong Anglican alignment, after the University of Toronto severed its ties with the Church of...

 at the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 and 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...

, and enlisted with the Canadian Army during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. He reached the rank of captain, and became an adjutant with the Canadian Armored Corps in the 28th Armored Regiment. He was captured by the Nazis at Falaise
Falaise, Calvados
Falaise is a commune in the Calvados department in the Basse-Normandie region in northwestern France.-History:The town was the birthplace of William I the Conqueror, first of the Norman Kings of England. The Château de Falaise , which overlooks the town from a high crag, was formerly the seat of...

 following D-Day
D-Day is a term often used in military parlance to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation is to be initiated. "D-Day" often represents a variable, designating the day upon which some significant event will occur or has occurred; see Military designation of days and hours for similar...

, and was a prisoner-of-war for a time.

After returning to Canada, Renwick finished his legal studies in 1947 and became a corporate lawyer in a firm with strong links to the Liberal Party of Canada
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...

. Progressively minded and looking for a vehicle to address what he saw as the problems of society, he attended the Liberal Party's 1960 conference in Kingston
Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," , growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post...

. This conference was held to explore new ideas at a time when the party was in opposition. Renwick was unimpressed, and chose not to join the party.

He was impressed by the newly formed New Democratic Party
New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party , commonly referred to as the NDP, is a federal social-democratic political party in Canada. The interim leader of the NDP is Nycole Turmel who was appointed to the position due to the illness of Jack Layton, who died on August 22, 2011. The provincial wings of the NDP in...

 (NDP), and joined the democratic socialist party after attending the Ontario New Democratic Party
Ontario New Democratic Party
The Ontario New Democratic Party or , formally known as New Democratic Party of Ontario, is a social democratic political party in Ontario, Canada. It is a provincial section of the federal New Democratic Party. It was formed in October 1961, a few months after the federal party. The ONDP had its...

' s 1962 convention. He campaigned for the Ontario party in the 1963 provincial election
Ontario general election, 1963
The Ontario general election of 1963 was held on September 25, 1963, to elect the 108 members of the 27th Legislative Assembly of Ontario of the Province of Ontario, Canada....

, and lost to Progressive Conservative
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
The Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario , is a right-of-centre political party in Ontario, Canada. The party was known for many years as "Ontario's natural governing party." It has ruled the province for 80 of the years since Confederation, including an uninterrupted run from 1943 to 1985...

 candidate Stanley Randall by 4,456 votes in the Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

 constituency of Don Mills
Don Mills (electoral district)
Don Mills was a provincial electoral district in Ontario, Canada. It was created for the 1963 provincial election, and lasted until the provincial redistribution on 1996. The riding was formally retired with the 1999 provincial election...


The next year, Renwick became the NDP's candidate for a by-election
A by-election is an election held to fill a political office that has become vacant between regularly scheduled elections....

 in the downtown Toronto riding of Riverdale, against Ontario 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...

 leadership candidate Charles Templeton
Charles Templeton
Charles Bradley Templeton was a Canadian cartoonist, evangelist, agnostic, politician, newspaper editor, inventor, broadcaster and author. He was born and died in the same city, Toronto, Canada...

. Renwick's campaign team, led by future Ontario NDP leader Stephen Lewis
Stephen Lewis
Stephen Henry Lewis, is a Canadian politician, broadcaster and diplomat. He was the leader of the social democratic Ontario New Democratic Party for most of the 1970s. During many of the those years as leader, his father David Lewis was simultaneously the leader of the Federal New Democratic Party...

, developed an innovative technique of going door to door three times during the campaign to identify the party's likeliest voters, and then "pulling the vote" on election day. This system maximized the NDP's vote on election day and increased the overall turnout to over 60%, about one-third higher than the usual turnout for a by-election. The result was an upset victory for Renwick, while Templeton fell to third place. This campaign system was adopted by the NDP throughout Ontario, and was later copied by other parties.

The NDP experienced a major breakthrough in the 1967 provincial election
Ontario general election, 1967
The Ontario general election of 1967 was held on October 17, 1967, to elect the 117 members of the 28th Legislative Assembly of Ontario of the Province of Ontario, Canada....

, greatly increasing its representation in the legislature and emerging particularly strong in Toronto. Among the victors was Renwick's wife Margaret
Margaret Renwick
Margaret Renwick was a Canadian politician, who represented the riding of Scarborough Centre in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1967 to 1971. She was a member of the Ontario New Democratic Party....

, who was elected in Scarborough Centre. Jim and Margaret Renwick were the first husband and wife ever to serve simultaneously in a Canadian provincial or federal legislature.

Despite this, many party members, and members of caucus
A caucus is a meeting of supporters or members of a political party or movement, especially in the United States and Canada. As the use of the term has been expanded the exact definition has come to vary among political cultures.-Origin of the term:...

, believed the party could have done better under new leadership. Donald C. MacDonald
Donald C. MacDonald
Donald Cameron MacDonald, CM, O.Ont was a long time Canadian politician and political party leader and had been referred to as the "Best premier Ontario never had." He represented the provincial riding of York South in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1955 to 1982...

 had led the Ontario NDP and its predecessor, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation, since 1953, and was seen as out of touch with the younger, more radical mood of the 1960s. Renwick was persuaded to challenge MacDonald for the party leadership in 1968, but was defeated in a leadership vote
Ontario CCF/NDP leadership conventions
The Ontario New Democratic Party elects its leaders by secret ballot of the party members and/or their delegates at leadership elections, as did its predecessor, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation . The party leader can be challenged for the leadership at the party's biennial convention...

. Renwick's challenge, though unsuccessful, opened the way for Stephen Lewis to run for the party's leadership in 1970, when MacDonald was persuaded that he could not withstand another leadership challenge and decided to retire.

Renwick was re-elected in 1971
Ontario general election, 1971
The Ontario general election of 1971 was held on October 21, 1971, to elect the 117 members of the 29th Legislative Assembly of Ontario of the Province of Ontario, Canada....

, 1975
Ontario general election, 1975
The Ontario general election of 1975 was held on September 18, 1975, to elect the 125 members of the 30th Legislative Assembly of Ontario of the Province of Ontario, Canada....

, 1977
Ontario general election, 1977
The Ontario general election of 1977 was held on June 9, 1977, to elect the 125 members of the 31st Legislative Assembly of Ontario of the Province of Ontario, Canada....

 and 1981
Ontario general election, 1981
The Ontario general election of 1981 was held on March 19, 1981, to elect members of the 32nd Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, Canada....

, and remained a Member of Provincial Parliament until his death. He also served as president of the federal NDP in the late 1960s. In 1982, he was a prominent supporter of Richard Johnston
Richard Johnston
Richard Frank Johnston is a retired Canadian politician, educator and administrator.-Background:Johnston was educated at Trent University and worked there as an administrator and counsellor...

's bid to lead the provincial NDP.

Renwick died on November 28, 1984, after suffering a heart attack.

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