John Roberts (Canadian politician)

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John Roberts
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for St. Paul's
In office
Preceded by Ron Atkey
Succeeded by Barbara McDougall
In office
Preceded by Ron Atkey
Succeeded by Ron Atkey
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for York—Simcoe
In office
Preceded by New riding
Succeeded by Sinclair Stevens
Personal details
Born John Moody Roberts
(1933-11-28)November 28, 1933
Hamilton, Ontario
Died March 30, 2007(2007-03-30) (aged 73)
Toronto, Ontario
Political party Liberal
Profession University professor

John Moody Roberts, PC (November 28, 1933 – March 30, 2007) was a Canadian politician. He was a Liberal Member of Parliament for 13 years interspersed between 1968 and 1984. He was a member of cabinet in the government of Pierre Trudeau.


Roberts was born in Hamilton, Ontario and grew up in Toronto. He taught Political Science and Public Administration at Concordia University in Montreal and Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He was also a visiting fellow at Oxford University in the United Kingdom. In his graduate seminars he blended academic excellence with practical political experience.


He was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in 1968 as a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for the riding of York—Simcoe.[1] He was defeated in the 1972 federal election but returned in 1974.[2][3] From 1974 to 1984 (defeated in 1979 and re-elected in 1980), he was MP for the riding of St. Paul's in Toronto.[4][5]

He was a junior cabinet minister in his role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Regional Economic Expansion from 1971 to 1972. In 1976, he was appointed Secretary of State for Canada in Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's cabinet. Roberts lost his seat again in the 1979 election in which the Trudeau government was defeated.

He was returned to the House yet again as a result of the 1980 election, and joined Trudeau's final cabinet, first as Minister of the Environment, Minister of State for Science and Technology and then as Minister of Employment and Immigration. As Canadian environment minister in the early 1980s he faced off with the US government over the cross-border issue of acid rain at a time when the Reagan Administration was denying its existence. Roberts led a strong public information campaign on both sides of the border that, at one point, resulted in the US justice department officially branding a National Film Board of Canada documentary Acid from Heaven as "foreign country propaganda". The campaign is credited with ultimately leading to a bilateral accord on acid rain being signed later in the decade.[6]

Roberts ran to succeed Trudeau at the 1984 Liberal leadership convention, coming in fourth behind John Turner. Turner kept Roberts in his cabinet as Minister of Employment and Immigration. Roberts and Turner's government were defeated in the 1984 election.[7] An attempt to return to parliament in 1988, this time from Ontario riding (Pickering), was unsuccessful.[8]

Later life[edit]

After retiring from academic life he returned to Toronto, living near the area of Yorkville. Roberts led the Canadian delegation to the 1998 Lisbon World Exposition (Expo 98) in Portugal and which lasted from May 22 to September 30, 1998. He died of a heart attack in 2007.


  1. ^ "Results from parliamentary constituencies across the country, riding by riding". The Globe and Mail. June 26, 1968. pp. 10–11. 
  2. ^ "How the 1,117 candidates fared across Canada". The Toronto Star. October 31, 1972. p. 15. 
  3. ^ "How the party candidates fared across the country". The Toronto Star. July 9, 1974. p. A12. 
  4. ^ "Counting the votes: The Liberals watch from their Quebec Conservatives sweep most of the West". The Globe and Mail. May 24, 1979. pp. 10–11. 
  5. ^ "Federal general election results listed riding-by-riding". The Ottawa Citizen. February 19, 1980. pp. 29–30. 
  6. ^ Chung, Matthew (April 1, 2007). "Ex-cabinet minister led acid rain fight". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. 
  7. ^ "How Canada voted". The Globe and Mail. September 5, 1984. pp. 14–15. 
  8. ^ "Decision '88: The vote". The Globe and Mail. November 22, 1988. pp. C4–C5. 

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