Andy Thompson (Canadian politician)

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For other people of the same name, see Andrew Thompson (disambiguation).
Andy Thompson
In office
Appointed by Lester B. Pearson
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded by David McMaster Kerr
Succeeded by Dante De Monte
Constituency Dovercourt
21st Ontario Liberal Party Leader
In office
Preceded by John Wintermeyer
Succeeded by Robert Nixon
19th Ontario Opposition Leader
In office
Preceded by Farquhar Oliver
Succeeded by Robert Nixon
Personal details
Born Andrew Ernest Joseph Thompson
(1924-12-14) December 14, 1924 (age 90)
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Political party Liberal
Occupation Social worker
Military service
Allegiance Canadian
Service/branch Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve
Years of service 1943-1946
Rank Lieutenant

Andrew Ernest Joseph "Andy" Thompson (born December 14, 1924) is a former Canadian politician. Thompson was leader of the Ontario Liberal Party and later served as a Senator. He was elected as the Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the west-end Toronto Dovercourt electoral district in 1959. He was elected the Ontario Liberal Party's leader in 1964. His physical health began to fail in late 1966 forcing him to retire as the Liberal leader. He was appointed to the Canadian Senate in 1967, forcing him to resign his provincial seat in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. He attracted media attention in 1997 and 1998 for making few appearances in the Senate over the past decade. His health issues never really went away, and gave that as his explanation for his truancy. He became the first Senator ever stripped of his office staff, salary and expense account for truancy, in 1998. A month later he resigned in order to receive his pension.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he was educated at Monkton Combe School in England and Oakwood Collegiate in Toronto. He attended the University of Toronto from 1942 to 1943 until he joined the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of Lieutenant. He completed his education at Queen's University and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1947. He received a Master of Social Work from the University of British Columbia in 1949.

Provincial politics[edit]

Thompson was first elected as a Member of Provincial Parliament in the 1959 Ontario election as a candidate of the Ontario Liberal Party in the Toronto riding of Dovercourt.[1] Thompson was close friends with federal Liberal cabinet minister Walter Gordon having organized his federal candidacy in the federal equivalent of Thompson's Dovercourt constituency.[2]

He made his name in the Ontario legislature in March 1964 when he assailed Attorney-General Fred Cass over Bill 99, which would have amended the Police Act to allow the Ontario Police Commission to interrogate individuals in secret leading to it being derisively referred to as the "Police State Bill". The scandal forced Cass to resign and enhanced Thompson's reputation considerably. He was elected leader of the party in the fall of 1964 when he defeated Charles Templeton on the sixth ballot.

Thompson suffered a physical breakdown.[2] He also had health problems, specifically a heart murmur, combined with exhaustion, high blood pressure and a lengthy bout of influenza. On the advice of doctors, Thompson resigned as leader in November 1966 without ever having led his party in an election.[3] He was succeeded as Liberal leader by Robert Nixon.[3]


Thompson was named to the Canadian Senate on April 6, 1967.[1] His time in the Senate was relatively uneventful. He kept a low profile but was exposed as having the worst attendance of any currently sitting Senator.[4] Thompson claimed he was unable to attend Senate sessions due to illness, but continued to draw his salary by showing up for a few days at the beginning of each session.[4] Thompson had technically not violated any Senate rules, as he has not yet missed two complete consecutive sittings and produced medical certificates for his absence.[5]

With growing media attention on Thompson's lengthy absences from the red chamber, the Reform Party made Thompson's absence a cause celebre, repeatedly pointing to the fact that he was living in Mexico.[6] Reform Members of Parliament hired a Mariachi band and served burritos in the lobby of the Senate to draw attention to the issue. Thompson was held up as an example of why the Senate needed to be reformed.[6]

The resulting furore led to Thompson being expelled from the Liberal caucus on November 19, 1997.[4] On 12 December 1997, Senator Colin Kenny moved that he be commanded to appear before Senate to explain his absence.[7] On 15 December 1997, the Senate was hung up on procedure,[8] but the next day they voted in favour of the Kenny motion.[9] On 11 February 1998, the Senate reconsidered at considerable length the question.[10] The subcommittee reported on 19 February, and its report was approved the same day that:[11]

After careful consideration of all the facts, and of the legal and procedural advice that it has received, your Committee recommends:

  • That the Honourable Senator Andrew Thompson be found in contempt;
  • That, since your Committee finds Senator Thompson in contempt, he be suspended for the remainder of the session; and
  • That the matter of Senator Thompson's expense allowance, as provided in the Parliament of Canada Act, be referred to the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration for immediate action.

Another report was tabled on 25 February,[12] and debated on 18 March, but the important work was done on 19 February.[13] The Senate first voted to strip him of his privileges and other perks. Later they found Thompson in contempt of the upper chamber for not complying with orders to return to Ottawa to explain his attendance record, resulting in the suspension of his $64,400 salary and $10,100 tax-free expense allowance.[5] In December 1997, Thompson lost his Senate office and other privileges. Some Senators disagree with the suspension, arguing that it was too lenient and that he should have been expelled from the chamber instead.[14] He resigned on March 23, 1998, 20 months ahead of his scheduled retirement, and was entitled to a pension of $48,000.[14][1]

The media's exposure of Thompson's attendance and his colleagues' tolerance of it led the Senate to toughen the rules governing its members and sick leave while also increasing the financial penalties for missing too many sittings during a session.


  1. ^ a b c "THOMPSON, The Hon. Andrew, B.A., M.S.W.". Parliamentary File, Parliament of Canada. Ottawa: The Queen's Printer for Canada. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-01-03. 
  2. ^ a b MacDonald, Donald C. (1998). The Happy Warrior: Political Memoirs (2 ed.). Toronto: Dundurn Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-55002-307-7. 
  3. ^ a b Brydon, Aurthor (1967-09-16). "Thompson: a figure on the sideline". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). p. 7. 
  4. ^ a b c Oziewicz, Estanislao (1997-11-20). "Absentee senator ousted from Liberal caucus:worst attendance record prompts move by Prime Minister". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). pp. A1, A15. 
  5. ^ a b "Senate votes to suspend truant without pay". CBCNews (Toronto). 1998-02-18. Archived from the original on 2012-01-03. Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
  6. ^ a b "Missing senator ordered to show up for work". CBCNews (Toronto). 1998-02-10. Archived from the original on 2012-01-03. Retrieved 2012-01-03. 
  7. ^ Senate debates 12 Dec 1997
  8. ^ Senate debates 15 Dec 1997
  9. ^ Senate debates 16 Dec 1997
  10. ^ Senate debates 11 Feb 1998
  11. ^ Senate debates, 19 February 1998
  12. ^ Senate debates, 25 Feb 1998
  13. ^ Senate debates, 18 March 1998
  14. ^ a b "Senate votes to suspend Andrew Thompson". CBCNews (Toronto). 1998-02-19. Archived from the original on 2012-01-03. Retrieved 2012-01-03. 

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