|Preceded by||New riding|
|Succeeded by||Wayne Arthurs|
|MPP for Durham West|
|Preceded by||Jim Wiseman|
|Succeeded by||Riding dissolved|
October 18, 1953 |
Simcoe, Ontario, Canada
|Political party||Progressive Conservative Party|
Janet Ecker (born October 18, 1953) 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.
Ecker grew up in Exeter, Ontario. Her father was a family physician. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario. In 1985, Ecker served as Director of Communications at the Ontario Treasury. She worked as a Government Relations Consultant with Public Affairs Management from 1987 to 1991, and was Director of Policy for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario from 1991 to 1995.
Ecker was also involved with the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario during these years. A Red Tory, she supported Larry Grossman at both of the party's 1985 leadership conventions, and served as Assistant Executive Director of the Ontario PC Party from 1985 to 1987.
She was first elected to the Ontario legislature in the provincial election of 1995, defeating Liberal Joe Dickson and incumbent New Democrat Jim Wiseman by a significant margin in the riding of Durham West, east of Toronto. She was not initially appointed to cabinet by Mike Harris, but was named Minister of Community and Social Services on August 16, 1996.
In the provincial election of 1999, she was re-elected by a comfortable margin in the redistributed riding of Pickering—Ajax—Uxbridge. After the election, she was named to the important portfolio of Minister of Education, which she held until April 14, 2002. Ecker also served as Government House Leader after February 8, 2001. In 2000, she supported Hugh Segal's bid for the leadership of the federal Progressive Conservative Party.
Ecker's best-known controversy as Education Minister was not with the legislative opposition or the teaching community, but with Jim Flaherty, another cabinet minister in the Harris government. In 2001, Flaherty announced that the government planned to introduce a tax credit for parents choosing to send their children to private and denominational schools. Flaherty's announcement broke a 1999 campaign pledge from Harris not to introduce such legislation. Flaherty reportedly did not consult with Ecker prior to making his statement. Ecker opposed this shift in policy, and according to some accounts was initially prepared to quit cabinet over the issue. She was persuaded to stay, but remained on very poor terms with Flaherty. As a result of this controversy, Ecker became a leading spokesperson for "moderate conservative" positions in her party, against the right-wing views of Flaherty and Harris.
When Harris resigned as party leader in 2002, many anticipated that Ecker would join the contest to replace him. Instead, she supported the candidacy of Ernie Eves, who won by defeating Flaherty in the second round of balloting. Ecker was named Minister of Finance on April 15, 2002, and became the first female Minister of Finance in Ontario to introduce a provincial budget. (Bette M. Stephenson had served briefly as Minister of Finance in 1985, but did not introduce a budget.) Shortly after being named as Finance Minister, Ecker announced that the Eves government would postpone the previously-announced private-school tax credit.
Ecker also introduced the Eves government's Keeping the Promise for a Strong Economy Act (Budget Measures), 2002.
In 2003, Ecker delivered her provincial budget at an auto parts factory owned by Magna International, rather than in the legislature.[why?] The move was widely criticized, even by some members of the Progressive Conservative party. Despite her previous opposition, Ecker re-introduced the private-school tax credit in this budget.[why?]
Ecker is an advisor with Tramore Group, a Toronto-based program management professional services firm. She currently teaches public administration at Queen's University in Kingston. In 2004, she supported Belinda Stronach's unsuccessful campaign to lead the new Conservative Party of Canada. She is the current president of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance. She supported Christine Elliott (spouse of Jim Flaherty) during the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario leadership election, 2009 and served as her campaign chair.
|Provincial Government of Ernie Eves|
|Cabinet Post (1)|
|Jim Flaherty||Minister of Finance