John Ottenheimer

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John Ottenheimer
Member of the Newfoundland and Labrador House of Assembly
for St. John's East
In office
Preceded by Hubert Kitchen
Succeeded by Ed Buckingham
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs of
Newfoundland and Labrador
In office
March 14, 2006 – 2007
Preceded by Tom Marshall
Succeeded by Tom Hedderson
Minister of Health and Community Services of
Newfoundland and Labrador
In office
October 1, 2004 – March 14, 2006
Preceded by Elizabeth Marshall
Succeeded by Tom Osborne
Minister of Education of
Newfoundland and Labrador
In office
November 6, 2003 – October 1, 2004
Preceded by Gerry Reid
Succeeded by Tom Hedderson
Personal details
Born St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador
Political party Progressive Conservative
Occupation Educator and Lawyer

John Ottenheimer (born 1953) is a Canadian lawyer and politician in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Ottenheimer is a former Cabinet minister in the government of Danny Williams and represented the district of St. John's East for the Progressive Conservative Party from 1996 to 2007. He unsuccessfully ran for the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives in 2014 losing to Paul Davis.

Between 2003 and 2007, Ottenheimer served as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Minister of Health and Community Services, and as the Minister of Education. He also briefly served as acting Minister of Municipal Affairs and acting Minister of Natural Resources. He left provincial politics in 2007 and was later appointed chairman of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.[1]


Ottenheimer was born in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador in 1953. He is the younger half-brother of former Progressive Conservative leader and Canadian Senator Gerry Ottenheimer.[1] In 1974 he graduated from Memorial University of Newfoundland with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Education Degree. He would later receive a graduate diploma and his Masters of Education. After working as a high school teacher in St. John's and as a principal throughout the province he decided to go back to school and become a lawyer. in 1982, Ottenheimer received his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Windsor. Ottenheimer practised law in St. John's and was also a lecturer in property law at Cabot College and a lecturer in Law and Education at the Faculty of Education of Memorial University.[2][3]

Provincial politics[edit]

Opposition MHA[edit]

In the 1996 provincial election Ottenheimer defeated Liberal incumbent Hubert Kitchen in the district of St. John's East, winning the seat for the Progressive Conservatives.[4] His win came despite the Liberals winning an overwhelming majority government and the PC Party losing seven seats from the previous election.[5] Ottenheimer was easily re-elected in the district in the 1999 general election.[6] From 1996 to 2003 Ottenheimer served in opposition and was a critic for a number of ministries. Ottenheimer had considered running for the party's leadership following the 1996 and 1999 general elections, but did not enter either race.[7][8]

Minister of Education[edit]

Ottenheimer was re-elected in the 2003 provincial election and the Progressive Conservatives won a majority government under Danny Williams. Weeks after the election Williams appointed Ottenheimer as the province's Minister of Education.[9] In February 2004, Ottenheimer confirmed that the provincial government would maintain the post-secondary education tuition freeze. The PC Party had committed to maintaining the freeze in their 2003 election platform but following a review of the province's finances the new government began to make sweeping budgetary cuts.[10][11]

Minister of Health and Community Services[edit]

On October 1, 2004, Ottenheimer was named minister of Health and Community Services, succeeding Elizabeth Marshall who quit the post after a public dispute with Williams over his management style.[12][13]

In October 2005, it was reported that Eastern Health, the province's largest health authority, was reviewing breast cancer tests dating back to 1997. The health authority later announced that between 1997 and 2005 over 400 women received inaccurate test results. The incident led the provincial government to call a judicial commission of inquiry into the conduct of Eastern Health. The Cameron Inquiry began in May 2007 and finished hearing testimony in October 2008. Ottenheimer was questioned at the inquiry in March 2008, about his role in the matter. Prior to Ottenheimer's testimony it was reported that he had found out about the error in the testings on July 19, 2005, several months before it was reported in the media.[14] Ottenheimer stated that he had wanted to go public with the information when he found out but was advised by officials at Eastern Health not to.[15]

In March 2005, Ottenheimer blacked out on an airplane en route to Gander and had a pacemaker installed later in the day. The incident led to Otttenheimer taking a two-month leave of absence from cabinet.[16][17]

Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs[edit]

On March 16, 2006, Ottenheimer was appointed Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. The move to the less demanding portfolio was a result of the health issues he faced the previous year. Ottenheimer said he needed a lifestyle change and had spoken to Williams the week prior to the shuffle about his health.[17]

On June 15, 2007, Ottenheimer announced he would not be seeking re-election in that year's provincial election.[18]

Federal politics[edit]

On March 30, 2011, Ottenheimer announced that he would be the Conservative Party of Canada candidate in the district of Random—Burin—St. George's in the 2011 federal election.[19] He was defeated by Liberal incumbent Judy Foote, receiving 8,322 votes.[20]

Leadership bid[edit]

Ottenheimer unsuccessfully ran for the leadership of the provincial Progressive Conservatives in 2014 losing to Paul Davis.[21] He subsequently decided against running for the federal Conservative nomination in Avalon for the 2015 election.[22] Davis subsequently appointed Ottenheimer to head the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation.


  1. ^ a b "Ottenheimer tapped for Hydro chair". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 December 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Exemplifying Service to the Community". University of Windsor. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "Premier Williams announces new Cabinet appointments". Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. 1 October 2004. Retrieved 17 June 2014. 
  4. ^ "St. John's East District Profile". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  5. ^ Mcilroy, Anne (23 February 1996). "Tobin triumphs in Nfld. Conservative leader Verge loses in her riding". The Gazette. p. A10. 
  6. ^ "Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the General Election for the Forty-Fourth General Assembly February 9, 1999" (PDF). Elections Newfoundland and Labrador. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  7. ^ Wickens, Barbara (22 December 1997). "Few want to fight Tobin". MacLeans. p. 10. 
  8. ^ Barron, Tracey (27 June 2000). "Tories consider reach for the top". The Telegram. 
  9. ^ "Premier and Cabinet sworn in to form new government in Newfoundland and Labrador". Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. 6 November 2003. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  10. ^ "Nfld. budget cuts projects, 4,000 jobs". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 March 2004. Retrieved 20 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Tuition freeze to be maintained for next year". The Telegram. 12 February 2004. p. A4. 
  12. ^ "Premier Williams announces new Cabinet appointments". Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. 1 October 2004. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Marshall resigns over Williams' management". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 September 2004. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Chronology of events in flawed breast cancer tests in N.L.". The Toronto Star. 3 March 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "Update: Ottenheimer said he was advised by experts not to go public in July 2005 about botched hormone receptor tests". The Telegram. 31 March 2008. Retrieved 28 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Newfoundland health minister recovering". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 March 2005. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  17. ^ a b "Osborne replaces Ottenheimer in health portfolio". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 March 2006. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  18. ^ "Time to step down, Ottenheimer says". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 June 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Voters warming to Harper: Ottenheimer". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 30 March 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  20. ^ "Innu leader delivers Conservatives from N.L. shutout". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 3 May 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2014. 
  21. ^ "Paul Davis wins PC leadership, becomes premier-designate". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 September 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2015. 
  22. ^ "John Ottenheimer out, Ches Crosbie uncontested so far for Avalon". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 January 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2015.