Dennis Timbrell

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Dennis Timbrell
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded byStanley Randall
Succeeded byMurad Velshi
ConstituencyDon Mills
Personal details
Born (1946-11-13) November 13, 1946 (age 72)
Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Political partyProgressive Conservative

Dennis Roy Timbrell (born November 13, 1946) is a politician in Ontario, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1971 to 1987, and was a cabinet minister in the governments of William Davis and Frank Miller.


Timbrell was born in Kingston, Ontario and educated at Woburn Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Ontario and York University in Toronto.[1] His brother Robert was an actor and performer, better known by the stage name Rusty Ryan.[2]

Timbrell worked as a teacher before entering provincial politics, and served as an alderman in North York from January 1970 until September 1, 1972.

Provincial politics[edit]

Timbrell contested 1971 provincial election as a candidate of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario, and won election in the Toronto constituency of Don Mills.[3] He was re-elected without difficulty in the campaigns of 1975,[4] 1977,[5] 1981[6] and 1985.[7]


He became a minister without portfolio responsible for Youth in Davis's government on February 26, 1974,[8] and was named as Minister of Energy on July 18, 1975.[9] On February 3, 1977, he was promoted to Minister of Health.[10] After serving in this high-profile position for five years, he became Ontario's Minister of Agriculture and Food on February 13, 1982.[11]

Ontario Provincial Government of Bill Davis
Cabinet posts (4)
Predecessor Office Successor
Lorne Henderson Minister of Agriculture and Food
Philip Andrewes
Frank Miller Minister of Health
Larry Grossman
Darcy McKeough Minister of Energy
James Taylor
Sub-Cabinet Post
Predecessor Title Successor
Minister Without Portfolio
Responsible for Youth

First leadership campaign[edit]

Following Davis's resignation as PC leader and as premier, Timbrell sought the party leadership at the January 1985 leadership convention. He positioned himself as a centre-right candidate - further to the right of Red Tory rivals Larry Grossman and Roy McMurtry, but not as far to the right as Frank Miller - and therefore the candidate best able to continue Davis' pragmatic, successful style of government. (In fact, many media pundits at the time referred to Timbrell as a "clone" of Davis; playing to this, some of Timbrell's supporters at the January 1985 convention wore buttons that depicted a caricature which morphed the facial features of both Davis and Timbrell into one person). Timbrell was the only candidate to favour eliminating rent controls during the campaign. His supporters included Keith Norton, Leo Bernier, Margaret Birch, Robert Eaton, Gordon Dean, Bob Welch and Norm Sterling.

Timbrell placed second on the first ballot, but was eliminated when he fell to third place on the second ballot, six votes behind Grossman who had the backing of McMurtry's campaign. Dr. John Balkwill in 1987 claimed that 30 to 40 Miller supporters were instructed by the Miller campaign to vote for Grossman on the second ballot to prevent him from advancing. Lou Parsons, a senior Miller adviser, later acknowledged, "We wouldn't have won it against Dennis [...] Our winning strategy was always to be against Larry ... and in the end we were lucky."[12]

Timbrell reluctantly endorsed Grossman after the results were confirmed by a recount. He however did not bring enough delegates on the third ballot and that resulted in Miller's victory. He was retained in Miller's cabinet as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing with responsibility for Women's Issues.[13]

Second leadership campaign[edit]

The Progressive Conservative Party under Miller's leadership was reduced to a narrow minority government in the 1985 election. Following a cabinet shuffle on May 17, 1985, Timbrell retained his previous postings and was additionally appointed Provincial Secretary for Resource Development.[14] Miller's government was defeated in the House in June, 1985. In opposition, Timbrell served as House Leader of the Official Opposition and his party's critic for Education and Women's Issues.

Miller resigned as leader, and the party called another leadership convention for November 1985. This contest was an extremely divisive struggle between Timbrell and Grossman, which exposed deep divisions in the party. A third candidate, Alan Pope, drew attention to the animosity between the candidates with his slogan, "Don't choose sides, choose Pope". Alan Eagleson was a co-chairman of Timbrell's campaign.

In this leadership race, Timbrell announced he would not support the full funding of Catholic schools (which had previously been agreed to by all parties in the legislature) unless amendments were put forward guaranteeing entry to non-Catholic teachers and students. Norm Sterling, an inveterate opponent of Catholic school funding, derided Timbrell's position as opportunistic and crossed over to Grossman. Timbrell's change of position may have turned away other potential supporters as well.

Pope finished third on the opening ballot and some believed that he could have given Timbrell a second-ballot victory over Grossman, though Pope chose not to endorse either side. Grossman defeated Timbrell on the second ballot by nineteen votes, effectively ending Timbrell's career in provincial politics. He did not seek re-election in 1987.

Ontario Provincial Government of Frank Miller
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Ernie Eves Provincial Secretary for Resource Development
1985 (May–June)
Position abolished
Claude Bennett Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
1985 (February–June)
Bernard Grandmaître (Municipal Affairs)
Alvin Curling (Housing)

Private sector career[edit]

Timbrell served as president of the Ontario Hospital Association from 1991 to 1995. He also served as a Director of the St. Joseph's Health System (Sisters of St. Joseph, Morrow Park) from 1986 to 1988 and a Director of the Toronto School of Theology (U of T) from 1986 to 1992 and in 1997–2003 (Vice-Chairman from 1991 to 1993 and in 1997–2000, Chairman from 2000 to 2003). He has served as a Director of various corporations, including Cabot Trust, Confederation Leasing, Confederation Trust, Ontario Blue Cross, United Telemanagement (Canada) Corporation and Eco Power Solutions Inc.

Federal politics[edit]

In 1997 and again in 2000 Timbrell campaigned for a seat in the House of Commons of Canada as the federal Progressive Conservative candidate in the eastern Ontario riding of Prince Edward—Hastings In the 1997 federal election, Timbrell placed second to Liberal Lyle Vanclief, with 21.5% of the vote.[15] In the 2000 election, Timbrell placed third with 20.3% of the vote.[16]


In 2006, Toronto City Council voted to name the community recreation - library - aquatic - child care facility, located at 29 St. Dennis Drive, Don Mills the "Dennis R. Timbrell Resource Centre in Flemingdon Park".

Timbrell has received the following forms of recognition:

1977 - The Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal 1978 - Officer of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem 1992 - The Canada Confederation 125 Medal 1993 - Knight of Malta 2012 - The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal


  1. ^ "Famous Woburnites". Woburn Alumni Association. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "Rusty Ryan". Xtra!. August 20, 2003. Retrieved May 28, 2014.
  3. ^ "Riding-by-riding returns in provincial election". The Globe and Mail. October 23, 1971. p. 10.
  4. ^ "Table of vote results for all Ontario ridings". The Globe and Mail. September 19, 1975. p. C12.
  5. ^ "Ontario provincial election results riding by riding". The Globe and Mail. June 10, 1977. p. D9.
  6. ^ Canadian Press (1981-03-20). "Election results for Metro Toronto". The Windsor Star. Windsor, Ontario. p. 22. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  7. ^ "Results of vote in Ontario election". The Globe and Mail. May 3, 1985. p. 13.
  8. ^ Dunlop, Marilyn (February 27, 1974). "The new cabinet lines up like this". The Toronto Star. p. A3.
  9. ^ "2 ministers plagued by recent illnesses to take on new Cabinet responsibilities". The Globe and Mail. January 15, 1975. p. 31.
  10. ^ Allen, David (February 3, 1977). "Davis names Timbrell new health minister". The Toronto Star. p. 1.
  11. ^ Stead, Sylvia; Speirs, Rosemary; Matas, Robert (February 13, 1982). "Grossman to Health Ontario Cabinet shuffled by Davis". The Globe and Mail. p. 1.
  12. ^ Rosemary Speirs. 1986. Out of the blue: the fall of the Tory dynasty in Ontario. Toronto: Macmillan of Canada. p. 81. ISBN 0-7715-9897-1
  13. ^ "The Ontario Cabinet". The Globe and Mail. February 9, 1985. p. 4.
  14. ^ "The new Cabinet". The Globe and Mail. May 18, 1985. p. 11.
  15. ^ "Final Results Riding by Riding". Calgary Herald. June 4, 1997. p. A5.
  16. ^ "Election Results". Star - Phoenix. Saskatoon, SK. November 28, 2000. p. A8.

External links[edit]