|Monte Kwinter MPP|
|Member of the Legislative Assembly
for York Centre Wilson Heights (1985–1999)
May 2, 1985
|Preceded by||David Rotenberg|
March 22, 1931 |
|Cabinet||Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations (1985–1987)
Minister of Financial Institutions (1986–1987)
Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology (1987–1990)
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services (2003–2007)
|Committees||Vice-Chair, Select Committee on Hydro Nuclear Affairs (1997)|
|Portfolio||Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade (2007–2008 & 2009–present)
Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of International Trade and Investment (2008–2009)
Monte Kwinter (born March 22, 1931) is a politician in Ontario, Canada. He has been a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario since 1985, was a cabinet minister in the government of David Peterson from 1985 to 1990, and was re-appointed to a cabinet position when the Liberals returned to power under Dalton McGuinty in 2003. Kwinter was dropped from cabinet in the cabinet shuffle that followed the 2007 provincial election.
Kwinter was educated at the Ontario College of Art, Syracuse University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, and the Université de Montréal. He has a degree in fine arts, specializing in industrial design. Kwinter worked in real estate before entering political life, eventually owning his own firm within the field. He was also a founding member of the Toronto Regional Council of B'nai Brith Canada, served on the board of directors of the Upper Canadian Zoological Society, was chair of the Toronto Harbour Commission, and served as an executive member on the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada.
On January 25, 2013, Kwinter became the oldest person to ever serve in the Ontario legislature.
Kwinter was first elected to the Ontario legislature in the provincial election of 1985 as a Liberal, defeating incumbent Progressive Conservative David Rotenberg and New Democrat city councillor Howard Moscoe in the North York riding of Wilson Heights (which has a large immigrant population and a prominent Orthodox Jewish community; Kwinter is himself Jewish). Kwinter's daughter, Lisa, would become a successful Toronto artist and entrepreneur.
Kwinter was easily re-elected in the provincial election of 1987, and was named Minister of Industry, Trade and Technology in September of that year. In June 1989, Kwinter was implicated in the Patti Starr corruption scandal. Starr, who was head of the National Council of Jewish Women, misused her position by having the organization make political contributions to the riding associations of prominent Liberal MPPs. Kwinter's riding of Wilson Heights was among those who received these illegal contributions. On August 2, when Peterson shuffled his cabinet in the wake of the scandal, Kwinter was one of only two ministers who retained their positions despite the scandal. Eight other ministers lost their positions.
He faced a more serious challenge in the 1995 election, which was won by the Progressive Conservatives; Tory candidate Sam Pasternak came within 3,000 votes of upsetting him. Kwinter was not a prominent figure in the Legislative Assembly during his time in the opposition, though he was nevertheless regarded as a strong community representative.
The Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris reduced the number of provincial ridings from 130 to 103 in 1996, forcing several incumbent Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) to compete against one another for re-election. In some cases, MPPs from the same party were forced to compete against one another for their riding nominations. Kwinter was challenged for the Liberal nomination in the new riding of York Centre by fellow MPP Anna-Marie Castrilli, who had unsuccessfully competed for the party's leadership in 1996.
Castrilli's challenge to Kwinter was extremely controversial, and was marked by serious divisions in the local riding association. Kwinter was subjected to a number of incidents of anti-Semitic abuse during this period, and on one occasion received hate mail at his legislative office. Castrilli was not involved in these incidents, but they were regarded by many as reinforcing the unpleasant character of the nomination battle.
Liberal leader Dalton McGuinty tried to convince Castrilli to run in a different riding, but was unsuccessful. Rumours began to circulate that Kwinter was planning to defect to the Progressive Conservatives in the event that he was defeated. As it happened, there was never an opportunity to test this speculation—Kwinter was able to defeat Castrilli, who defected to the Tories herself shortly thereafter.
Kwinter's nomination difficulties proved to be his only real challenge of the 1999 campaign, and he was again returned by a significant margin in the general election. The Progressive Conservatives were again victorious across the province, and Kwinter remained on the opposition benches.
In 2002, Kwinter publicly opposed the Liberal Party's position on tax credits for parents who send their children to private and non-Catholic denominational schools. The party opposes such credits as a detrimental to the public system. Kwinter referred to the distinction between publicly funded Catholic Separate Schools and non-Catholic denominational schools as one of discrimination, though he also opposed funding for non-denominational private schools. (Ontario has long provided financial support to its Catholic school system as the result of an historical compromise, made at a time when the public system was dominated by Protestant interests. Other faiths have not received such funding; this is a very important issue for some members of Toronto's Jewish community.)
Kwinter's was again re-elected in the 2003 election without difficulty. The election was won by the Liberals, and there was considerable media speculation as to whether or not Dalton McGuinty would appoint the septuagenarian Kwinter to cabinet again. Ultimately, Kwinter's public disagreements with party policy were not enough to sideline his career: he was appointed Ontario Minister of Public Safety and Security (essentially a retitled Solicitor-General's position) on October 23, 2003.
Kwinter put forward a plan to combat marijuana grow-ops in Ontario that would permit local utilities to cut off electrical power to those in the illegal industry. There were many who opposed this plan on the grounds that innocent citizens could see their power cut off without warning in the event of an administrative or legal error.
Kwinter was re-elected in the 2007 provincial election despite a stronger challenge from the Progressive Conservative Party due to its support for extending funding to Jewish and other religious day schools. Kwinter broke with the Liberal platform and cabinet solidarity by supporting the Progressive Conservative's proposal. The Liberal government was re-elected however Kwinter was dropped from Cabinet in the post-election cabinet shuffle. While no official reason was given for the demotion the Jewish Tribune claimed that it was a result of the position he took on school funding during the election campaign though it did not name its source for this claim.
Following the cabinet shuffle Premier McGuinty appointed Kwinter to the position of chair Ontario investment and trade advisory council and the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade (Investment Attraction and Trade).
- "10 new faces to spur `activist’ agenda: McGuinty left several key ministers in place and turfed out four others as he remade Ontario's Liberal cabinet" by Keith Leslie, Canadian Press, Toronto Star, October 30, 2007
- Matt Maychak. Liberal links to fallen Starr scares MPPs. Toronto Star. June 15, 1989. pg A30.
- Alan Storey, Derek Ferguson. Tainted ministers axed: Peterson drops 8 in cabinet shuffle. Toronto Star. August 2, 1989. pp. A1, A27.
- Antonella Artuso. Hydro to root out grow ops: suspicious homes to lose power. Toronto Sun, Oct 8, 2004. 
- Atara Beck, "Kwinter kicked out of cabinet: Stand on inclusive public education the reason, source says," Jewish Tribune, November 22, 2007, page 2
- Kris Scheuer, Monte Kwinter wants back for eighth term, Town Crier, March 7, 2011.