David Edward Crombie
PC OC OOnt
|Crombie speaks to reporters on the floor of the 1983 leadership convention. Photograph by Alasdair Roberts.|
|Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Toronto Centre
|Preceded by||Donald Stovel Macdonald|
|Succeeded by||David MacDonald|
|56th Mayor of Toronto|
December 1, 1972 – November 30, 1978
|Preceded by||William Dennison|
|Succeeded by||Fred Beavis, acting|
|Born||April 24, 1936|
|Political party||Progressive Conservative|
|Children||Jonathan, Robin, Carrie|
David Edward Crombie, PC OC OOnt (born April 24, 1936) is a Canadian politician, professor and consultant. Crombie served as Mayor of Toronto from 1972 to 1978. In federal politics, he served as a Conservative Member of Parliament from 1978 to 1988 serving in several cabinet positions.
Crombie was a lecturer in politics and urban affairs at Ryerson in the 1960s when he became involved in Toronto's urban reform movement. At the time, the city had a very pro-development city council that allowed a great deal of demolition of older buildings, including houses, to make way for the construction of apartment blocks, office towers, and highways (see Spadina Expressway). Crombie, along with John Sewell and other urban reformers, became a leader in a grassroots movement that favoured curtailing development in favour of improving social services and prioritizing community interests.
Crombie was elected to Toronto's city council in 1970, and became Mayor of Toronto in 1972, ushering in an era of socially responsible urban development inspired by thinkers such as Jane Jacobs. Crombie was the first mayor who represented the reform movement of Toronto politics, and his policies differed sharply from those of the Old Guard who preceded him.
Much of Crombie's time as mayor was spent trying to rein in the development industry. He initially imposed a 45 foot limit on all new constructions, but this was overturned by the Ontario Municipal Board. Crombie then put forward a new official plan that imposed varying height restrictions across the city, and this was upheld by the board.
The Spadina Expressway had been halted by premier Bill Davis in 1971, but Davis continued to support the construction of the Allen Expressway in the north. Crombie attempted but failed to have it halted. He was more successful in countering plans for the Scarborough Expressway; all work was halted during Crombie's term, leading to its eventual cancellation.
Crombie also opposed the traditional pattern of demolishing poorer neighbourhoods and replacing them by housing projects. The plans to redevelop areas such as Trefann Court, Kensington Market, and Cabbagetown ended under Crombie. Instead, he oversaw the creation of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood, an area of mid-rise, mixed-use, mixed-income buildings that followed Jane Jacobs vision of urban planning.
Crombie was enormously popular as mayor, being re-elected in 1974 and 1976 with large majorities. Because of his great public appeal and small stature, he was repeatedly described in the media as the city's "tiny, perfect mayor".
He left City Hall in 1978 to move to federal politics, winning a by-election as a Progressive Conservative candidate that gave him a seat in the House of Commons of Canada. Crombie served as Minister of Health and Welfare in the short-lived minority government of Prime Minister Joe Clark which was elected in 1979 but lost power the next year.
Crombie stood as a candidate at the 1983 Progressive Conservative leadership convention. He finished fourth and urged his supporters to vote for John Crosbie, rather than Brian Mulroney.
After Mulroney led Conservatives to power in the 1984 election, Crombie became Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, and later Secretary of State and Minister of Multiculturalism. Frustrated in Ottawa, as a Red Tory in an increasingly conservative government, Crombie decided not to run in the 1988 election, and returned to urban affairs as head of the royal commission on the future of Toronto's waterfront. Crombie tried to find an alternative to Red Hill Creek Expressway but the Hamilton city council dismissed his compromise proposal out of hand as being insufficient.
Throughout the 1990s, he served in various advisory capacities to city and provincial governments relating to urban issues in the Toronto area. He recently retired from his position as CEO of the Canadian Urban Institute.
On April 17, 2008, the Toronto District School Board selected Crombie to negotiate a funding solution to the swimming pool issue. On May 13, 2004, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2012, he was made a member of the Order of Ontario.
Crombie is the father of actor Jonathan Crombie. He also has two daughters, Robin and Carrie.
- Kuitenbrouwer, Peter (31 May 2011). "Q&A: Former Mayor David Crombie on community achievement". National Post. Archived from the original on 24 July 2012.
- "Reformers Sweep Toronto City Voting". Milwaukee Journal. 5 December 1972. Retrieved 24 July 2012.
- "27 Appointees Named To Ontario's Highest Honour".