Evelyn Gigantes

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Evelyn Gigantes
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded byRichard Patten
Succeeded byRichard Patten
ConstituencyOttawa Centre
In office
Preceded byMichael Cassidy
Succeeded byRichard Patten
ConstituencyOttawa Centre
In office
Preceded byPaul Frederick Taylor
Succeeded byBob MacQuarrie
ConstituencyCarleton East
Personal details
Evelyn Adelaide Peach

(1942-11-01) 1 November 1942 (age 76)
Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Political partyNew Democrat
Spouse(s)Terry Gigantes (div.)
John Sifton
Occupationradio and television broadcaster

Evelyn Adelaide Gigantes (born 1 November 1942)[1] is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. She served as a New Democratic Party member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on three occasions between 1975 and 1995, and was a prominent cabinet minister in the government of Bob Rae.


Gigantes was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia and raised in Aylmer, Quebec. Her father, Earle Peach, was an author who wrote a book called "Memories of a Cape Breton childhood".[2] She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Carleton University.[1] She worked as a radio and television broadcaster before entering political life, and was for a time an interviewer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, and host of her own current affairs show in Ottawa. During her time out of political office, she was a member of a City of Ottawa Municipal Energy Planning Project, and served as a representative on women's issues for the National Union of Provincial Government Employees. Gigantes has a daughter, Clea, from a first marriage and a son, Matthew, with her second husband, John Sifton.[1]


Carleton East[edit]

Gigantes ran for the Ontario legislature in a by-election held on 30 September 1974. She was defeated by Progressive Conservative Paul Frederick Taylor in the Ottawa area riding of Carleton East, losing by 240 votes.[3] The following year, however, she defeated Taylor by 281 votes in the provincial election of 1975.[4] During her first term she was the NDP's critic for energy and later, education.[5]

In the provincial election of 1977 Gigantes was re-elected over Progressive Conservative Darwin Kealey by 781 votes.[6] In the summer of 1980, Gigantes gave birth to her first child. The birth was a first for an Ontario MPP. She said the baby was conceived during an NDP convention the previous fall. She quipped, "It was one of the most positive products of the convention."[7]

In the 1981 provincial election she finished third behind both Liberal Bernard Grandmaitre and the winner, Progressive Conservative Bob MacQuarrie.[8]

Ottawa Centre[edit]

Gigantes returned to the legislature through a by-election win in Ottawa Centre on 13 December 1984, called after Cassidy resigned as MPP. She defeated Progressive Conservative candidate Graham Bird by 1,878 votes. The Liberal candidate, radio call-in show host Lowell Green came in third.[9] Gigantes was re-elected over Bird by an increased margin in the 1985 provincial election.[10]

After the 1985 election, the Liberal Party under David Peterson was able to form a minority administration with support from the NDP (which did not join the Liberals in a formal coalition, but offered support on key legislative initiatives). Gigantes served as her party's critic for the Attorney General and for Women's Issues in this period.[11] In November 1986, Gigantes proposed a gay rights amendment to a bill that sought to bring Ontario statutes into line with the new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Her amendment proposed to protect gays from being discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. The bill, including her contentious amendment, was passed a month later by a vote of 64-45.[12][13] At the same time during debate on another bill about pay equity, Gigantes was expelled from the legislature for calling Attorney General Ian Scott a liar.[14]

The Liberals won a majority government in the 1987 provincial election, and Gigantes lost her seat to Liberal Richard Patten by 1,087 votes.[15] Between 1987 and 1990 she worked as a union representative for the National Union of Provincial Government Employees.[16]

In government[edit]

The NDP won a majority government under Bob Rae in the 1990 provincial election, and Gigantes, once again campaigning in Ottawa Centre, defeated Patten by almost 3,000 votes. Gigantes remarked during the election campaign that the Liberals, who were widely seen as leading in the polls, were not in control of events. She said, "The election call has triggered a very cold look at the record of this government and people don't like what they see."[17]

As a result of her legislative experience, she was appointed to Rae's first cabinet as Minister of Health on October 1, 1990. In June 1990, the federal government narrowly passed bill C-43 that would have placed restrictions on doctors who performed abortions. In response to the bill, many Ontario doctors decided to stop performing abortions altogether.[18] In November 1990, Gigantes announced that the province would set up fully funded free-standing abortion clinics to ensure that abortion services remained available.[19] In January 1991, Gigantes and fellow cabinet minister Anne Swarbrick led a delegation that appeared before the legal affairs committee of the Senate of Canada that was discussing the bill.[20] Eventually the bill was defeated on a tie vote in the Senate and the federal government never reintroduced the legislation.[21]

On April 19, 1991, Gigantes resigned from cabinet after inadvertently revealing the name of a Toronto man who had been sent to the United States for drug treatment that wasn't offered in the province.[22] Three months later, she was reinstated to cabinet as Minister of Housing.[23]

During her time as housing minister, Gigantes proposed that apartments within houses, referred to as "granny-flats", would be legalized and protected. The legislation eventually called the "Residents' Rights Act" was passed into law in the summer of 1994. The bill removed the ability of municipalities to ban so-called basement apartments and sought to improve the safety of tenants by giving them the ability to complain about landlords.[24] In August 1994, Gigantes resigned from cabinet when she was found in breach of conflict-of-interest guidelines. Gigantes resigned because she allegedly pressured an Ottawa tenant to drop charges against the board members of her public housing project. The committee found that the breach was minor but had "the potential to diminish the public's trust." [25][26]

The NDP were defeated in the 1995 provincial election, and Gigantes again lost the Ottawa Centre riding to Richard Patten by over 1,500 votes.[27]

Cabinet posts[edit]

Ontario Provincial Government of Bob Rae
Cabinet posts (2)
Predecessor Office Successor
Dave Cooke Minister of Housing
Richard Allen
Elinor Caplan Minister of Health
Frances Lankin

Later life[edit]

In 2004, she co-chaired a candidate search committee for the federal New Democratic Party.


  1. ^ a b c "Veteran MPP no stranger to battles in politics". Toronto Star. 19 August 1994. p. A13.
  2. ^ Wright, Elizabeth (27 October 1990). "Cape Breton halo". The Ottawa Citizen. p. I4.
  3. ^ Peter Mosher (8 November 1974). "Liberal wins, NDPer second: Ontario Tories defeated in a fourth by-election". The Globe and Mail. pp. 1, 2.
  4. ^ "Table of vote results for all Ontario ridings". The Globe and Mail. 20 September 1975. p. 12.
  5. ^ "NDP shuffles ministry critics, creates 2 new monitoring posts". The Globe and Mail. 15 February 1977. p. 2.
  6. ^ "Baetz for PCs only new MPP in Ottawa ridings". The Globe and Mail. 10 June 1977. p. D11.
  7. ^ "A Legislature first, MPP expects baby". The Globe and Mail. 10 May 1980. p. D18.
  8. ^ Kirk Makin (20 March 1981). "Stoic Cassidy vows he'll stay to lead fight again". The Globe and Mail. p. 10.
  9. ^ Stephens, Robert (14 December 1984). "Premier, Rae all smiles after by-election wins". The Globe and Mail. p. 1.
  10. ^ McQuaig, Linda (3 May 1985). "Tories lose support in Eastern Ontario". The Globe and Mail. p. 12.
  11. ^ "NDP critics' list released". The Globe and Mail. 12 June 1985. p. 9.
  12. ^ Kennedy, Mark (15 November 1986). "Homosexual rights' amendment splits Queen's Park legislators". The Ottawa Citizen. p. B8.
  13. ^ "How the Legislature voted". Toronto Star. 3 December 1986. p. A18.
  14. ^ "NDP's Gigantes expelled for calling Scott 'a liar'". The Windsor Star. 21 November 1986. p. A9.
  15. ^ Evenson, Brad (11 September 1987). "Ottawa Centre; Crimson tide topples NDP dynasty". The Ottawa Citizen. p. B3.
  16. ^ Orton, Marlene (30 June 1988). "Non-union women earn less: Report slams non-benevolent bosses; Non-union women paid less". The Vancouver Sun. p. B8.
  17. ^ "Liberals pay for calling early vote, poll suggests". The Ottawa Citizen. 28 August 1990. p. A4.
  18. ^ "Ontario loses abortion fight". The Windsor Star. 3 November 1990. p. A6.
  19. ^ Sacheli, Sarah (28 November 1990). "Gigantes stokes abortion fire". The Windsor Star. Southam News. p. A1.
  20. ^ Ramsay, Joan (1991-01-16). "Bill's loss may be blessing for Tories". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A5.
  21. ^ Kirkey, Sharon (1991-02-02). "Federal abortion bill degrading, Ontario cabinet ministers claim". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A7.
  22. ^ Egan, Kelly (20 April 1991). "Slip of tongue underscores problems of privacy". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A2.
  23. ^ Thompson, Catherine (31 July 1991). "Ferguson in, Farnan out: Rae shuffles cabinet just 10 months into term". Kitchener - Waterloo Record. p. A1.
  24. ^ Walker, William (17 May 1994). "New law to make basement apartments legal". Toronto Star. p. A1.
  25. ^ Brennan, Richard (19 August 1994). "Conflict of interest The fall and fall of Evelyn Gigantes". The Spectator. p. A1.
  26. ^ "Chronology". The Ottawa Citizen. 19 August 1994. p. A2.
  27. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 8, 1995. Archived from the original on March 16, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-02.

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