Provincial Secretary and Registrar of Ontario

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The Provincial Secretary and Registrar of Ontario was a senior position in the provincial cabinet of Ontario from before Canadian Confederation until the 1960s.

The Provincial Secretary and Registrar was originally the second highest position in the provincial cabinet, equivalent to the position of Deputy Premier. The Provincial Secretary was the equivalent of the former Canadian Cabinet position of Secretary of State for Canada. Like its federal counterpart it included an eclectic variety of responsibilities that were not assigned to other ministers, most of which would eventually evolve into portfolios of their own. The provincial secretary was also responsible for official communications between the provincial government and the Colonial Office in London as well as with other provincial and colonial governments (and after 1867 the federal government). As well, the position also included various duties related to ceremonial occasions, visits by dignitaries, protocol, relations between the government and the office of lieutenant governor and commemorative events particularly in relation to the monarchy.

Generally, the Provincial Secretary acted as a province's Registrar-General and was responsible for formal documents and records such as licences, birth and death certificates, land registries and surveys, business registrations and writs. As well, the position was generally responsible for the administration of the civil service and of elections. Provincial secretaries were usually the most senior member of the provincial cabinet outside of the Premier, and the office holder was often designated as Acting Premier when the Premier was out of province, ill or otherwise unavailable. The last individual to hold the position of Provincial Secretary and Registrar (renamed Provincial Secretary and Minister of Citizenship in 1961) was John Yaremko who left office in 1975.

In 1972 the Progressive Conservative government of Bill Davis adopted the provincial secretary title for a non-departmental cabinet portfolio in which the occupant either having responsibility spreading over sevearl ministries, assisting a senior minister in an area or as a secondary portfolio for a senior minister giving him a broader responsibility or mandate area. The three positions created were Provincial Secretary for Social Development, Provincial Secretary for Justice and Provincial Secretary for Resource Development. These positions were unrelated to the original Provincial Secretary position except for the common name. The positions were retained by Davis' successor, Frank Miller, in 1985 but were abolished when the Progressive Conservatives lost power to David Peterson's Liberals in 1985.

Pre-Confederation Provincial Secretary[edit]

Prior to Confederation and the creation of the office of Premier, the Provincial Secretary was the most important and powerful figure in provincial politics. The title holder was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor and many sat as members of the Legislative Council.

Upper Canada[edit]

United Provinces of Canada[edit]

Provincial Secretary and Registrar[edit]

Provincial Secretary and Minister of Citizenship[edit]

Provincial Secretaries for Social Development[edit]

Provincial Secretaries for Justice[edit]

Provincial Secretaries for Resource Development[edit]

See also[edit]