Alan Tonks

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Alan Tonks, BA, MA, M.Ed.
Member of Parliament
for York South-Weston
In office
2000–2011
Preceded by John Nunziata
Succeeded by Mike Sullivan
6th Metro Toronto Chairman
In office
1987–1997
Preceded by Dennis Flynn
Succeeded by position abolished
Personal details
Born (1943-04-02) April 2, 1943 (age 71)
Toronto, Ontario
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Cecile Tonks
Children 3
Residence Toronto
Profession Teacher

Alan Tonks (born April 2, 1943) is a Canadian politician. He was the Liberal MP for the federal electoral district of York South—Weston in Toronto from 2000 to 2011, and was the final Metro Toronto Chairman before the amalgamation of Metro Toronto into the new City of Toronto.

Background[edit]

Tonks is the son of the late Chris Tonks, who was a mayor and alderman in what was then the Borough of York in Metropolitan Toronto. After graduating from York Memorial Collegiate Institute Alan Tonks attended York University where he earned a Master's degree in political economy and the University of Toronto where he received a Masters in Education. He spent time working for a Canadian aid agency in Jamaica before becoming a junior high teacher for the Scarborough Board of Education for several years.

Married to Cecile, Tonks has three adult children, Chris, Matthew, and Alison. His son Chris is now a trustee on the Toronto District School Board.

Local/municipal politics[edit]

Tonks entered municipal politics in the 1970s and served as an alderman in York before serving as mayor from 1982 to 1988.

Due to a change in the Act governing Metropolitan Toronto, the position of Metro Chairman, beginning in 1988, had to be elected from Metro Councillors who were themselves elected to represent specific wards. Mayors continued to sit on Metro Council on an ex-officio basis but were now ineligible to be candidates for Metro Chairman as were former or non-members of Metro Council. Accordingly, incumbent Metro Chairman Dennis Flynn, a former mayor of Etobicoke, had to run for Metro Councillor in a specific ward if he wanted to remain Metro Chairman. Similarly, Tonks, who wished to become Metro Chairman, could not run for that position while being Mayor of York. Accordingly, in the 1988 municipal election, he did not run for re-election as Mayor of York and instead ran for the position of Metro Councillor representing one of York's two Metro wards.

At the first Metro Council session following the municipal election, Tonks was elected Chairman of the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto by the other members of Metro Toronto Council defeating incumbent Metro Chairman Dennis Flynn, the only time a sitting Metro Chairman would be defeated by a challenger.

Tonks served as Metro Chairman until 1997 when the municipality was amalgamated by the provincial government of Mike Harris resulting in the abolition of Metro Council and the replacement of the Metro Chairman by a new Mayor of Toronto directly elected by all voters. Tonks was a supporter of the city's amalgamation, and led the Transition Team responsible for administering the new City of Toronto. He did not run in the 1997 "Megacity" election for the position of mayor and retired from elected municipal politics. In 1999, he was appointed chair of the Greater Toronto Services Board and served until 2000.

Provincial politics[edit]

He first ran for the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 1975 provincial election as a candidate of the Ontario Liberal Party, and finished third in York South against former New Democratic Party leader Donald C. MacDonald. He was also unsuccessful in the 1987 Ontario election, losing to NDP leader Bob Rae by only 333 votes in York South.

Federal politics[edit]

He was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 2000 election as the Liberal MP for York South—Weston defeating Independent MP (and former Liberal) John Nunziata by 1,497 votes. In 2003 he served as a parliamentary secretary to the Minister for the Environment. He was re-elected by a much greater margin in the federal elections held in 2004. He served as a member of the official opposition from 2006 to 2011, where he lost his seat by around 2500 votes to the NDP's Mike Sullivan.

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