Alvin Curling

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Alvin Curling
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded byRiding established
Succeeded byBas Balkissoon
ConstituencyScarborough—Rouge River
In office
Preceded byThomas Leonard Wells
Succeeded byRiding dissolved
ConstituencyScarborough North
38th Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
In office
November 19, 2003 – August 19, 2005
Preceded byGary Carr
Succeeded byMichael A. Brown
Canada's ambassador to the Dominican Republic
In office
Preceded byAdam Blackwell
Succeeded byPatricia Fortier
Personal details
Born (1939-11-15) November 15, 1939 (age 83)
Kingston, Jamaica
Political partyLiberal
Residence(s)Scarborough, Toronto
OccupationEducator, diplomat

Alvin Curling (born November 15, 1939) is a Jamaican-born Canadian politician. He was Canada's envoy to the Dominican Republic from 2005 to 2006. A former politician in Ontario, Canada, he was Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario until he resigned on August 19, 2005 to accept his diplomatic appointment. He had been a Liberal MPP for twenty years, from 1985 to 2005.


Curling was educated at Seneca College and at York University in Toronto. He began working as an educator in 1972, and served as President of the World Literacy of Canada organization from 1981 to 1984, as well as working in the Jamaican Canadian Association.


In government[edit]

He was elected to the Ontario legislature in the provincial election of 1985 as a Liberal in the suburban Toronto riding of Scarborough North. Curling defeated Progressive Conservative candidate Carole Noble by about 8,000 votes.[1] His personal total of 30,504 votes was a provincial record at the time.

The Liberals formed a minority government after this election, and Curling was appointed Minister of Housing on June 26, 1985.[2] He was the first Black Canadian to hold a cabinet-level position in Ontario. During his time as minister of Housing, he expanded the parameters of Ontario's rent control program, and announced a $500 million initiative for new urban housing. Curling was easily re-elected in the provincial election of 1987,[3] and was appointed Minister of Skills Development on September 29, 1987.[4] He served in this capacity until August 2, 1989, when he was dropped from cabinet.[5]

Cabinet positions[edit]

Ontario provincial government of David Peterson
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Greg Sorbara Minister of Skills Development
Sean Conway
Dennis Timbrell
[note 1]
Minister of Housing
Chaviva Hošek

In opposition[edit]

The Liberals were defeated by the NDP in the 1990 election, although Curling managed to retain his riding by about 4,000 votes.[6] He was also re-elected without much difficulty in the face of Progressive Conservative majority governments of 1995[7] and 1999 in the redistributed riding of Scarborough—Rouge River.[8] From 1996 to 1999, he served as Deputy House Leader for the Liberals.

In December 1995, he gained notoriety for his 18-hour filibuster-like protest against the Mike Harris government's Omnibus Bill 26. When Curling was ordered expelled from the legislature for refusing to vote, he was ordered by the speaker to leave the chamber. He refused to leave his seat, and a knot of fellow Liberal and NDP opposition members formed a cordon around him to prevent his physical removal. The standoff lasted throughout the night and into the next morning when the house was adjourned. Reports stated that when legislature staff saw Frances Lankin, NDP MPP and a former prison guard, among the cordon, they backed off. Curling claimed his protest was meant to highlight a lack of public consultation in the Harris government's bill. The incident led to a discussion amongst the party house leaders and an agreement was reached to review the bill clause by clause.[9]

Curling supported Joseph Cordiano for the Ontario Liberal Party leadership in 1996 (Ottawa Citizen, November 21, 1996).

Speaker of the Legislature[edit]

The Liberals returned to power following the provincial election of 2003, and Curling was elected Speaker of the Legislature without opposition on November 19, 2003.

Curling soon faced criticism over as charges of partisanship and how objectively he was performing his duties as Speaker. Opposition MPPs, including New Democrat Peter Kormos and Conservative John Baird, noted that Curling favoured his Liberal colleagues, sanctioning Conservative and NDP members for behaviour he would more often let slide from Liberals. Curling had also been criticized for attending Liberal Party fundraiser while Speaker, as previous Speakers had avoided attending such events which was seen as compromising the impartiality of the office. In late March 2005, Kormos announced plans to introduce a resolution calling on Curling to resign from the post, and it was rumoured Conservatives were considering a similar call.

After politics[edit]

Curling resigned his seat in the Legislative Assembly on August 19, 2005, to accept a diplomatic posting as Canada's ambassador to the Dominican Republic. He was recalled from this position in 2006 following the defeat of the federal Liberal government.[10]

Curling held a position as Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo, Ontario, from June 2007 until May 2010. He also served as Co-Chair of the Premier's Task Force on the Review of the Roots of Youth Violence. In the mid-2000s, Curling was honoured by the government of Jamaica with a Rank of Distinction. He holds the title of Commander. In 2014, he was made a Member of the Order of Ontario for having "played an important role in shaping government policy addressing youth violence".[11]



  1. ^ Ministry split in 1985 between Municipal Affairs Minister Bernard Grandmaitre and Curling.


  1. ^ "The new Cabinet". The Globe and Mail. May 18, 1985. p. 11.
  2. ^ "Liberals pledge reform as they take over in Ontario". The Gazette. Montreal, Que. June 27, 1985. p. B1.
  3. ^ "Results from individual ridings". The Windsor Star. September 11, 1987. p. F2.
  4. ^ "Wrye gets new cabinet job". The Windsor Star. September 29, 1987. p. A1.
  5. ^ Allen, Gene (August 3, 1989). "Veterans bear load as 8 ministers cut in Peterson shuffle". The Globe and Mail. p. A1.
  6. ^ "Ontario election: Riding-by-riding voting results". The Globe and Mail. September 7, 1990. p. A12.
  7. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 8, 1995. Archived from the original on April 14, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  8. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 3, 1999. Archived from the original on April 14, 2014. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  9. ^ "Legislative Reports: Ontario". Canadian Parliamentary Review. 1996. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
  10. ^ "Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada Complete List of Posts". Archived from the original on October 5, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2009.
  11. ^ "New Appointees to the Order of Ontario". January 23, 2014.

External links[edit]