John Robarts

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John Parmenter Robarts, PC, CC, QC (January 11, 1917 – October 18, 1982) was a Canadian lawyer and statesman, and the 17th Premier of Ontario.


Early life

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 at the University of Western Ontario in Business Administration. While attending Western, he joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity.[1]

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 law school and graduated in 1948.

Political career

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.

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