John Munro (Canadian politician)
|Member of Parliament for Hamilton East|
|Preceded by||Quinto Martini|
|Succeeded by||Sheila Copps|
|Born||John Carr Munro
March 16, 1931
|Died||August 19, 2003
John Carr Munro, PC (March 16, 1931 – August 19, 2003) was a Canadian politician. He was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1962 election, and served continuously as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hamilton, Ontario in the electoral riding of Hamilton East until his resignation in 1984, following his defeat for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada which was eventually won by John Turner.
After receiving a B.A. from the University of Western Ontario and an LL.B. from Osgoode Hall, Munro entered politics as a Hamilton alderman in 1954. Munro was called to the bar in 1956.
Munro was first elected to the House of Commons in 1962, representing the riding of Hamilton East. From 1963 to 68, Munro served as Parliamentary Secretary to a number of Ministers in Lester B. Pearson's government, including the Ministers Manpower and Immigration, Trade and Commerce and National Health and Welfare. Munro was an early supporter of medicare legislation and helped it passed through parliamentary committees while Parliamentary Secretary to Health and Welfare Minister Judy La Marsh from 1964 to 1965.
John Munro was appointed to Cabinet by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and served variously as Minister of Amateur Sport, Minister of Health and Welfare and Minister of Labour from 1968 to 1978 when he resigned after calling an Ontario judge in 1978 to offer a character reference for a constituent facing sentencing on an assault conviction. Accused of interference, Munro resigned. He returned to cabinet when Trudeau returned to power in the 1980 federal election and served as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development throughout Trudeau's final term.
On June 21, 1981, the Toronto Sun ran a front-page story accusing Munro of profiting from illegal insider trading through his advance knowledge of Petro-Canada's bid to acquire Petrofina Canada. Munro sued the paper, its editors, and the two reporters for libel. Not only was there no evidence that the stock transaction described in the Sun had ever taken place, the corporation through which the deals were said to have been made never actually existed. Even with the Sun's retraction and apology, the paper was ordered to pay Munro $75,000—at the time a very high award for a libel case in Canada. One of the reporters was fired, the other was allowed to resign.
Munro ran at the 1984 Liberal leadership convention coming in sixth. Munro attempted to return to Parliament in the 1988 general election, in the riding of Lincoln but was defeated by Progressive Conservative Shirley Martin. He again attempted to win the Liberal nomination in the riding of Lincoln in the 1993 general election, but the nomination eventually went to Tony Valeri after an acrimonious fight between Munro and the Liberal Party national office.
His leadership campaign led to trouble when Munro and his associates were investigated under the Criminal Code and faced 37 charges alleging illegal kickbacks to his 1984 leadership campaign and other irregularies. The charges were thrown out in 1991, but Munro's reputation was ruined, and he was nearly bankrupted by legal expenses. He sued the federal government in 1992 for compensation over being wrongfully charged. The case dragged on for seven years until the government agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $1.4 million, of which $1.2 million went to Munro's lawyers and other creditors.
Hamilton's John C. Munro International Airport is named after him.
Following Munro's death, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said he was "a very good man. He was a very good Member of Parliament and he was a very good minister and a guy who worked very, very hard (on) all the files that (were) given to him. He was a...grassroots politician, very socially oriented and a very effective minister. Munro was buried at Woodland Cemetery in Hamilton.