David Ramsay (Ontario politician)

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David Ramsay
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded byNew riding
Succeeded byJohn Vanthof
In office
Preceded byEd Havrot
Succeeded byRiding abolished
Personal details
Born (1948-04-23) April 23, 1948 (age 71)
Sydney, Australia
Political partyNew DemocratLiberal
ResidenceBelle Vallée, Ontario, Canada

David James Ramsay (born April 23, 1948) is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. He was elected as a New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1985 who crossed the floor a year later to join the Liberal party. He represented the northern Ontario riding of Timiskaming from 1985 to 1999 and the redistributed riding of Timiskaming—Cochrane from 1999 to 2011. He served as a cabinet minister in the governments of David Peterson and Dalton McGuinty.


Born in Australia, Ramsay moved to Canada with his parents at age one after having been adopted in Sydney, and was raised in Oakville, Ontario. He attended Concordia University in Montreal, and after graduation worked as a farmer in New Liskeard and a clerk-treasurer in Casey Township, in northern Ontario. He later served as president of the Timiskaming Federation of Agriculture in 1984-85, was a founding member of the Timiskaming Grain Growers Board, and served as chair of the Timiskaming Hospital Board for a time.

Political career[edit]

Election as a New Democrat[edit]

In the 1985 provincial election he ran as the New Democrat candidate in the northern Ontario riding of Timiskaming. He defeated Progressive Conservative incumbent Ed Havrot by almost 3000 votes, as the once-powerful Tory machine in northern Ontario began to lose its support base.[1] He served as a critic of Small Business, Financial Institutions, and Agriculture and Food.

Becoming a Liberal[edit]

On 6 October 1986, Ramsay crossed the floor to join the governing Liberals, claiming that Northern Ontario needed greater representation in government. (Ramsay also seems to have disliked the Toronto leadership of the NDP, describing it as out of touch with his rural/populist base.)

Despite an intense effort by the NDP to defeat Ramsay in the 1987 election, he won re-election by over 4,000 votes.[2] On 29 September 1987, Ramsay was appointed to David Peterson's cabinet as Minister of Correctional Services.[3] Following a cabinet shuffle on 2 August 1989, he was named Minister of Agriculture and Food.[4] Ramsay kept his seat in the 1990 election that defeated the Liberal government and brought Ramsay's former party, the NDP, to power under Bob Rae.[5]

He ran for the leadership of the Liberal Party in the 1992 Liberal leadership convention, but placed last in a field of six candidates.[6] Like fellow candidate Greg Sorbara, his campaign included both right-wing and left-wing elements. He supported tax reduction (including lower gasoline taxes, a reduction in the Provincial Sales Tax and a one-year moratorium on the federal Goods and Services Tax), and favoured open Sunday shopping and allowing corner stores to sell beer and wine. He also supported pay equity measures, and described himself as pro-choice on abortion.

In the provincial elections of 1995[7] and 1999,[8] Ramsay's primary opposition came not from the New Democrats but the Progressive Conservatives, whose leader Mike Harris represented a neighbouring riding. He won by a clear margin on both occasions. In 1996, he endorsed Dwight Duncan's bid to lead the Ontario Liberal Party.[9]

Ramsay served as caucus chair from 1993 to 1994 and again from 1999 to 2003.

With the victory of the Liberals under the leadership of Dalton McGuinty in the 2003 election,[10] Ramsay returned to cabinet as Minister of Natural Resources on 23 October 2003.[11] He was also given responsibility for Aboriginal Affairs on 29 June 2005.[12] In June 2007, Ramsay was appointed Ontario's first Minister of Aboriginal Affairs.[13]

In the 2007 provincial election, Ramsay won by 634 votes over NDP candidate John Vanthof.[14] Ramsay expected to continue as a minister but was dropped from cabinet. Instead he was appointed as McGuinty's Parliamentary Assistant.[15]

He January 2011 he said that he was retiring from politics and would not run in the 2011 election.[16]

Cabinet positions[edit]

Ontario Provincial Government of Dalton McGuinty
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
New Ministry Minister of Aboriginal Affairs
2007 (June–October)
Michael Bryant
Jerry Ouellette Minister of Natural Resources
Also responsible for Aboriginal Affairs (2005-2007)
Donna Cansfield
Ontario Provincial Government of David Peterson
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Jack Riddell Minister of Agriculture and Food
Elmer Buchanan
Ken Keyes Minister of Correctional Services
Richard Patten


  1. ^ "Results of vote in Ontario election". The Globe and Mail. May 3, 1985. p. 13.
  2. ^ "Results from individual ridings". The Windsor Star. September 11, 1987. p. F2.
  3. ^ "Wrye gets new cabinet job". The Windsor Star. September 29, 1987. p. A1.
  4. ^ Allen, Gene (August 3, 1989). "Veterans bear load as 8 ministers cut in Peterson shuffle". The Globe and Mail. p. A1.
  5. ^ "Ontario election: Riding-by-riding voting results". The Globe and Mail. September 7, 1990. p. A12.
  6. ^ Egan, Kelly (February 9, 1992). "Ontario Liberals pick McLeod; First woman leader wins by nine votes on fifth ballot". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A1.
  7. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 8, 1995. Archived from the original on March 27, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  8. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 3, 1999. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  9. ^ Windsor Star, 26 June 1996.
  10. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. October 2, 2003. Archived from the original on 2015-04-15. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  11. ^ "Premier Dalton McGuinty and his 22-member cabinet were sworn in Thursday". Canadian Press NewsWire. October 23, 2003. p. 1.
  12. ^ "Cabinet shuffle focuses on health care, education; McGuinty to head new Research and Innovation ministry". The Kitchener Record. June 30, 2005. p. A5.
  13. ^ Greenberg, Lee (June 22, 2007). "Aboriginal affairs elevated to full ministry; McGuinty appoints minister of natural resources to also head new department". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A13.
  14. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots Cast for Each Candidate" (PDF). Elections Ontario. October 10, 2007. p. 15 (xxiv). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 7, 2009.
  15. ^ Ferguson, Rob; Benzie, Robert (October 31, 2007). "Premier goes for new blood; Expanded 28-member cabinet has eight ministers from Toronto, three from 905 area". Toronto Star. p. A13. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
  16. ^ Howlett, Karen (January 13, 2011). "Ontario Liberal David Ramsay to retire from politics". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2 May 2019.

External links[edit]