Lisa Raitt

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The Honourable
Lisa Raitt
Lisa Raitt 2013.jpg
Raitt in 2013
Official Opposition Critic for Finance
In office
November 20, 2015 – October 15, 2016
Leader Rona Ambrose
Preceded by Nathan Cullen
Succeeded by Gerard Deltell
Minister of Transport
In office
July 15, 2013 – November 4, 2015
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Denis Lebel
Succeeded by Marc Garneau
Minister of Labour
In office
January 19, 2010 – July 15, 2013
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Rona Ambrose
Succeeded by Kellie Leitch
Minister of Natural Resources
In office
Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Preceded by Gary Lunn
Succeeded by Christian Paradis
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Milton
Halton (2008-2015)
Assumed office
October 14, 2008
Preceded by Garth Turner
Personal details
Born Lisa Sarah MacCormack
(1968-05-07) May 7, 1968 (age 48)
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) David Raitt (divorced)
Bruce Wood[1]
Children 2
Profession Lawyer, administrator
Religion Roman Catholic[2]

Lisa Sarah MacCormack Raitt, PC MP (born May 7, 1968) is a Canadian politician, who is the Conservative Party Member of Parliament for the Ontario riding of Milton. She is a professional administrator (1999–2008) turned politician (2008–present). Raitt served as the Minister of Transport in the Cabinet of Canada.


Raitt was born Lisa Sarah MacCormack in Sydney, Nova Scotia, as the youngest of seven children. Her father, Colin A. MacCormack, worked for a local coal mine, loading coal onto ships, and later served as city alderman, and secretary-treasurer and a lead negotiator for the Cape Breton Railway Transportation and General Workers. Her mother, Mary Christina "Tootsie" (Gillis), was a businesswoman.[3][4] Raitt was married to Second City alumnus, playwright, and stay-at-home dad David Raitt and has two sons, John Colin (b. 2002) and Billy (b. 2005)[5] and they are now divorced[6] and on September 2, 2016 she married her longtime partner, Bruce Wood, the President and CEO of the Hamilton Port Authority.[7]

Raitt graduated from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia with a bachelor of science degree. She went on to do a master's degree in chemistry, specializing in environmental biochemical toxicology, from the University of Guelph. Raitt possesses an LL.B from Osgoode Hall Law School, and was called to the Ontario bar in 1998. That year, she was granted a Dr. Harold G. Fox Scholarship.[8] As a result, she trained with barristers of the Middle Temple in London, United Kingdom, which specialized in international trade, commerce, transportation and arbitration.

Toronto Port Authority (1999–2008)[edit]

Raitt served as the TPA’s Corporate Secretary and General Counsel,[9][10] and harbourmaster from April 2001.[11] She was the first female harbourmaster of a Canadian port.[11]

As General Counsel for the TPA, she filed a $1 billion lawsuit over 600 acres (240 ha) of land that was transferred in the 1990s to the City of Toronto's Toronto Economic Development Corporation (TEDCO) by the Toronto Harbour Commission (THC).[12] The disputed lands, mostly the infill lands of the Don River delta, constituted around 85% of the THC's land assets as of the early 1990s. The lands had been transferred in two separate agreements, in 1991 and 1994 in exchange for a permanent subsidy for the THC. The TPA's legal claim was that the transfer had been done while the majority of directors of the THC were City-appointed, and who had acted in the City's interest and not in the Commission's fiduciary interest, and that the deals crippled the THC's ability to be self-sufficient by ending any potential revenues from those lands. Since the TPA was inheriting the role and activities of the THC, it was thus crippled itself.[13] The TPA and the City settled out of court in exchange for a promised bridge to the Island Airport across the Western Gap and approximately $50 million. The bridge was never built; instead a pedestrian tunnel under the Western Gap was constructed and completed on July 30, 2015.

In 2002, Raitt was appointed as president and chief executive officer of the Toronto Port Authority (TPA), a Canadian federal corporation that manages the Toronto Harbour as well as the Toronto City Centre Airport.[10] See relinquished the post of harbourmaster to Angus Armstrong in 2004.[14]

As CEO of the TPA, Raitt was responsible for building the International Marine Passenger Terminal, a Toronto home for the now-defunct Canadian American Transportation Systems, a Rochester, New York-based group. The ground was broken on 24 August 2004, and CATS operated for six months in 2005.[15] The Rochester firm that initially owned the ferry had a 14-year lease on the use of the terminal that would have paid the City of Toronto $250,000 per year.[15] [16] The terminal was reported to have cost $10.5 million to construct,[17] which makes a 0.33 cost recovery factor. The lease was terminated in December 2009 after payment of a $90,000 settlement. The terminal has seen little use since then except to dock cruise ships and as a movie set.[18]

During her time as CEO of the TPA, the Air Canada Jazz service to the Toronto City Centre Airport was discontinued under a legal cloud.

In 2006 Raitt jointly filed a political libel action for $3.4 million against Community Air, a citizen group that had criticized her.[19] The lawsuit was criticised as a SLAPP type legal tactic meant to silence critics of the airport.[20] The suit was eventually settled out of court when in May 2007 Community Air agreed to retract its statements and apologize.[21]

In 2006, the TPA was criticized for its use of lobbyists by Olivia Chow, NDP MP for the riding including the Airport. Chow accused the governing Harper government of backing down on a promise to slay cronyism in Ottawa because Tory-connected lobbyists were pushing the expansion of Toronto's controversial island airport. Raitt stated that the Port Authority spends around CDN $50,000 a year on lobbyists, and confirmed that their lobbyists were: Peter Naglik, Vic Gupta and Bill Hearn.[22]

Raitt was responsible for the new TCCA1 ferry for passengers at the Toronto City Centre Airport, which is located on Centre Island.[23]

Raitt was quoted as "proud to have assisted in the remarkable growth of Porter Airlines" in her time at the TPA.[10]

Mismanagement allegations[edit]

New Democrat MP Olivia Chow called on Sheila Fraser, the federal auditor general, to conduct an audit of the port authority to investigate why Baird increased the membership of the board of directors from seven to nine - and why Raitt, while CEO of the authority, was allowed to run up almost $80,000 in travel and other expenses over two years.[24] A November 2009 report by the Toronto Star claimed that Raitt signed off on her own expenses inappropriately,[25] but the TPA claimed the Star's report was inaccurate.[26] This followed another story in the Toronto Star that a TPA employee used the office computer to send emails about a Conservative fundraiser event.[27] After an independent forensic review conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Toronto Port Authority released the results on September 14, 2010. These results showed that "all but one of the 15 complaints lodged by the former Directors were groundless".[28]

Federal politics[edit]

Raitt in 2009

In September 2008, Raitt was appointed to run as the Conservative candidate in Halton against Liberal incumbent Garth Turner.[29] Turner was formerly a Conservative MP but he was suspended from the Conservative caucus in 2006 for breaching confidentiality. He later joined the Liberals after briefly sitting as an independent member. After a campaign that was described as "vicious and personal", Raitt defeated Turner in the October 14, 2008, election.[30]

Minister of Natural Resources[edit]

Raitt was appointed to the Cabinet of Canada on October 30, 2008, as Minister of Natural Resources. She was one of eleven women named to the Cabinet.[31]

At an October 6, 2009, meeting of the Oakville, Ontario, Chamber of Commerce, Raitt was on record discussing the possibilities of increased tourism and shipping opportunities in the North due to the melting polar ice cap.[32][33]

CTV Incident[edit]

On June 2, 2009, CTV News reported that a folder of confidential and secret ministerial briefing documents had been left by Raitt or her staff at the CTV News Ottawa office for a week. CTV News chose to reveal the contents which listed the funding for the Chalk River nuclear reactor which had recently shut down, causing a shortage of medical radioisotopes. On June 3, the opposition parties demanded that the government fire Raitt or accept her resignation. Raitt claimed to have offered her resignation and that the offer was rejected by the Prime Minister. A ministerial aide, Raitt's 26-year-old director of communications, Jasmine MacDonnell, offered her resignation which was accepted.[34]

Some critics attempted to draw parallels to a similar occurrence in 2008 involving Maxime Bernier, who ultimately was forced to resign his cabinet post as Minister of Foreign Affairs after leaving sensitive documents pertaining to a NATO conference at the home of an ex-girlfriend. Speaking to reporters, the Prime Minister said that "Minister Raitt was working at the time. She was undertaking employment activity, ministerial activity in the company of her staff who were responsible for these documents, certainly for accounting for these documents later."[35] Addressing the parallel he added, "[i]n the case of Minister Bernier, his actions were much more personal in nature and that was the difference in the responsibility."[36]

Comments about radio isotope shortage and ministerial colleagues[edit]

On June 8, 2009, CBC news online reported that a Nova Scotia court heard an argument to block the Halifax Chronicle-Herald from publishing a story about an audio recording involving Raitt. The injunction was denied.[37] On the audio tape, made on January 30, 2009, by the same aide who resigned on June 2, was a discussion between Raitt and the aide over the radioisotopes shortage. The judge ruled that the public interest over-rode the issue of confidentiality.[38]

On the tape, Raitt made comments on the radio isotope issue, describing it as "sexy ... Radioactive leaks. Cancer." and hard to control because it is "confusing to a lot of people".[38] Raitt also made comments on the parliamentary skills of Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq:

"Oh, God, she's such a capable woman, but it's hard for her to come out of a co-operative government into this rough-and-tumble. She had a question in the House yesterday, or two days ago, that planked. I really hope she never gets anything hot."[38]

Raitt also made comments about Manitoba MP Joy Smith, who introduced a private member's bill on human trafficking:

"Speaking of career-limiting moves, I’m in shock that that MP, Joy Smith, brought forward private member’s legislation on human trafficking. She’s on Canada AM. And the reason being is that there’s no way any of us should be introducing anything around justice issues or finance issues right now. You just can’t touch those two things."[39]

Minister of Labour[edit]

On January 19, 2010, Raitt was moved from the Ministry of Natural Resources to the Ministry of Labour.[40] Prime Minister Harper publicly defended Raitt, saying she has "a great future."[41]

The Ottawa Citizen and National Post reported Raitt's appearance at Lester B. Pearson Airport on March 22, 2012, and subsequent reaction by Air Canada baggage handlers was the reason a wildcat strike occurred the next day. According to Bill Trbovich, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW), Raitt was walking through the airport when three workers started “clapping and saying ‘Oh, great job’. Raitt is alleged to have asked the RCMP to ‘arrest these animals’. The strike caused widespread disruption to Air Canada schedule, causing flight cancellations and delays. Raitt's office denied the allegation.[42][43]

Raitt received criticism for her quick use of back to work legislation to end several strikes. In 2011, she used back to work legislation twice to end strikes by Air Canada's flight attendants and by employees of Canada Post. The following year she threatened to legislate workers with the Canadian Pacific Railway back to work on the first day of their strike. Raitt and the Conservative government were criticized by some for undermining labour's legal right to strike. On each occasion she cited the country's fragile economy as the reason for using back to work legislation.[44][45][46]

When Raitt was shuffled out of the Labour portfolio she received praise from both opposition critics and union leaders for her work as minister. Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner described Raitt as “tough, quick, funny and hard-working — she can give as good as she gets.” Phil Benson of the Teamsters union said “she had an open door policy with us, was professional, courteous and good to deal with,” and that he looked forward to working with her as Transportation Minister.[47]

Minister of Transport[edit]

Raitt was named Minister of Transport on July 15, 2013, nine days after the Lac-Mégantic derailment. She replaced Denis Lebel, MP for Roberval-Lac-Saint-Jean who was previously Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. With her promotion to the transportation file she was considered to be one of the most senior women in cabinet, along with Public Works Minister Diane Finley.[47]

Rail safety[edit]

On July 9, 2013, the Ministry of Transport was in full damage control mode owing to the LMD. Two Directors (Marie-France Dagenais and Luc Bourdon), and an Associate Deputy Minister (Gerard McDonald) tried to finesse their delayed reaction to a scathing December 2011 report by the Auditor General of Canada on rail safety.[48] Raitt took over the Ministry on July 15. She issued a directive sometime in autumn 2013 requiring railways to inform municipalities about the kinds of dangerous goods they were carting through their communities, but a spokesman for Canadian National said on 8 January 2014, upon the occurrence of the hazardous derailment (PRD) near Plaster Rock, New Brunswick,[49] that it was too soon for those regulations to have come into effect.[50] Prime Minister Stephen Harper was forced to intervene during a stop in Inuvik on January 8, 2014, and said: “We have made significant investments in rail safety and rail inspections,” he said. “We have increased both of those vastly.”[49]

Conservative leadership[edit]

Shortly after her promotion to the Ministry of Transport, National Post columnist John Ivison wrote that Raitt was quickly becoming a contender to succeed Prime Minister Stephen Harper when he decides to step down.[47] After the Conservative government was defeated in the 2015 federal election Raitt was one of several names commonly mentioned as a potential leadership candidate.[51] Raitt has said she is "seriously considering" a bid for the party leadership.[52] On October 14, 2016 Raitt steped down as finance critic, in apparent move to Conservative party leadership bid.[53]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Milton
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Lisa Raitt 22,378 45.4 -9.65
Liberal Azim Rizvee 19,940 40.4 +16.22
New Democratic Alex Anabusi 5,366 10.9 -5.63
Green Mini Batra 1,131 2.3 -1.57
Libertarian Chris Jewell 493 1.0 +0.63
Total valid votes/Expense limit 49,308 100.0     $203,697.90
Total rejected ballots 210 0.42
Turnout 49,518 69.01
Eligible voters 71,754
Conservative notional hold Swing -12.94
Source: Elections Canada[54][55]
Canadian federal election, 2011: Halton
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Lisa Raitt 44,206 54.4 +6.9
Liberal Connie Laurin-Bowie 20,903 25.8 -10.4
New Democratic Patricia Heroux 12,960 16.0 +7.2
Green Judi Remigio 2,778 3.4 -3.6
Christian Heritage Tony Rodrigues 249 0.3 -0.2
Total valid votes 81,096 100.0
Total rejected ballots 290 0.4 +0.1
Turnout 81,394 62.4 +1.9
Eligible voters 130,026
Conservative hold Swing +8.65
Canadian federal election, 2008: Halton
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
Conservative Lisa Raitt 32,986 47.5 +3.5 $106,182
Liberal Garth Turner 25,136 36.2 -5.2 $51,972
New Democratic Robert Wagner 6,118 8.8 0.0 $3,421
Green Amy Collard 4,872 7.0 +1.4 $4,509
Christian Heritage Tony Rodrigues 337 0.5 $2,108
Total valid votes/Expense limit 69,449 100.0 $107,026
Total rejected ballots 225 0.3
Turnout 69,674 60.5
Conservative notional hold Swing +4.35


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ "New federal minister hasn't forgotten her Cape Breton roots". Cape Breton Post. November 6, 2008. Retrieved 2015-11-08. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Brennan, Richard (November 9, 2008). "Resources minister used to taking heat; Former head of Toronto Port Authority clashed with waterfront residents, city over island airport". Toronto Star. p. A8. 
  6. ^ "Labour Minister Lisa Raitt parted ways with her spouse". Ottawa Citizen. November 16, 2011. Archived from the original on November 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Former transport minister comes home to wed port CEO in Ben Eoin". Cape Breton Post. 2 September 2016. Retrieved 14 September 2016. 
  8. ^ "Past Recipients". The Harold G. Fox Education Fund Website. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  9. ^ "Port CEO rips Martin for bridge comments". The Globe and Mail, Online Edition. 28 November 2003. 
  10. ^ a b c TPA: "Toronto Port Authority CEO Lisa Raitt taking leave of absence to seek public office" 9 Sep 2008
  11. ^ a b "Covering the waterfront; Toronto's first female harbourmaster takes helm of complex port job". Toronto Star. 5 April 2001. p. B1. .
  12. ^ Barber, John (November 7, 2002). "Taxpayers hit both ways in TPA lawsuit". The Globe and Mail. p. A26. 
  13. ^ Tassé(2006), pp.35–37
  14. ^ "Senior Management of Toronto Port Authority". Toronto Port Authority. Retrieved 2008-09-12. 
  15. ^ a b Debra Black (2006-05-06). "Beleaguered ferry heads off across the pond; Rochester unties Spirit of Ontario Sold for $29.8M to plug financial hole". Toronto Star. p. A 12. Retrieved 2011-12-30. The Toronto Port Authority's terminal that accommodated the ferry at Cherry Beach will be put to other use, said Lundy. Other cruise vessels on the Great Lakes use it. And the Toronto Port Authority is also looking at other possibilities for the terminal. 
  16. ^ Emily Mathieu (2009-12-18). "Rochester ends fast ferry lease". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2011-12-30. According to the Democrat & Chronicle, the ferry board agreed to pay the Toronto Port Authority a settlement of $90,000 (U.S.) to end the lease. The board also voted to dissolve the Rochester Ferry Co. mirror
  17. ^ Charles Wyatt (2005-08-18). "Port authority embarking on fresh start: Focus shifting to rebuilding ties, efficiency". Business Edge news magazine. Retrieved 2012-04-24. The ferry is now owned by the City of Rochester and uses a $10.5-million international marine passenger terminal built by the Toronto Port Authority. The ferry is operating at 50-per-cent capacity, but usage is expected to increase. mirror
  18. ^ "Filming: Rates valid until August 31, 2012". Toronto Port Authority. 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-23.  mirror
  19. ^ Ontario Superior Court of Justice: "Statement of Claim" 12 Jun 2006
  20. ^ Barber, John (June 21, 2006). "Port Authority's cynical SLAPP aimed at silencing its critics". The Globe and Mail. p. A13. 
  21. ^ Gray, Jeff (May 3, 2007). "Port agency settles suit against Community Air". The Globe and Mail. p. A15. 
  22. ^ Brieger, Peter (August 31, 2006). "Chow accuses Tories of cronyism over Island Airport". National Post. p. A10. 
  23. ^ Dawson, Mary (June 25, 2009). The Watson Report, June 2009 (PDF). The Office of the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner, Government of Canada. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  24. ^ "NDP urges probe of Raitt's expenses when she led Toronto Port Authority". June 8, 2009. 
  25. ^ Diebel, Linda (November 9, 2009). "NDP wants to see Lisa Raitt's expenses". Toronto: Retrieved 2010-04-09. 
  26. ^ "Toronto Port Authority responds to inaccuracies in Toronto Star articles". November 6, 2009. 
  27. ^ "Tory fundraiser sparks uproar". The Toronto Star. October 1, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Toronto Port Authority releases Forensic Review Report" (Press release). Toronto Port Authority. 2010-09-14. Retrieved 2010-11-01. 
  29. ^ "Port Authority CEO to run for Tories". The Globe and Mail. 6 September 2008. p. A18. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  30. ^ "Raitt leaves incumbent Turner in her wake". Toronto Star. October 15, 2008. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  31. ^ "The new face of cabinet". Toronto Star. October 30, 2008. 
  32. ^ Depko, Tina (October 9, 2008). "Sparks fly at Halton debate". The Oakville Beaver. p. 1. 
  33. ^ Findlay, Andrew (February 5, 2009). "Pipeline would bring tankers into B.C. inlets". Retrieved 2009-02-05. 
  34. ^ "Minister grilled, aide resigns after secret documents left at news bureau". CBC news. June 3, 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  35. ^ "Under fire, Raitt keeps job;PM refuses offer of resignation over mishandled documents". Ottawa Citizen. June 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-09. [dead link]
  36. ^ "Cabinet minister won't lose job over lost documents". The Canadian Press. June 3, 2009. Retrieved 2015-05-29. 
  37. ^ "Court hearing begins over Raitt audiotape". CBC News. June 8, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  38. ^ a b c "Outrage over Raitt 'sexy' cancer comment". Canadian Press. June 9, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-09. 
  39. ^ Rabson, Mia (June 9, 2009). "Raitt's shot at Manitoba MP Joy Smith caught on tape". Winnipeg Free Press. 
  40. ^ "Member of Parliament Profile (Current): Lisa Raitt"
  41. ^ Akin, David; Fitzpatrick, Meagan (January 19, 2010). "Harper shuffles cabinet to focus on economy". Canwest News Service. Retrieved 2010-01-19. 
  42. ^ Stechyson, Natalie (2012). "Injunction ends Air Canada wildcat strike; accusations fly over comments to Raitt". Retrieved March 23, 2012. Lisa Raitt 
  43. ^ National Post Staff (2012). "Suspension of Air Canada workers who slow clapped Lisa Raitt caused wildcat strike". Retrieved March 23, 2012. asked that the RCMP ‘arrest these animals’ 
  44. ^ "Stop meddling in Air Canada's labour dispute". The Globe and Mail. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  45. ^ Warren, Michael (22 May 2012). "Labour Minister Lisa Raitt is tilting the playing field against unions". Toronto Star. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  46. ^ "Back-to-work law for Canada Post tabled". CTV News. 20 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  47. ^ a b c Ivison, John (17 July 2013). "John Ivison: How Lisa Raitt became a possible contender to succeed Stephen Harper". National Post. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  48. ^ "Transport Canada vowed to fix inadequate oversight of dangerous goods transportation in 2011" o.canada 9 July 2013
  49. ^ a b G+M: "New Brunswick train derailment fire renews questions of oil-by-rail’s dangers" 8 Jan 2014
  50. ^ G+M: "Train derailment and fire involving crude oil tankers likely caused by brake malfunction" 8 jan 2014
  51. ^ "The Pollcast: Your primer on the Conservative leadership race". CBC News. 21 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  52. ^ Herhalt, Chris (15 January 2016). "Conservative MP Lisa Raitt 'seriously considering' bid for party leadership". CP24. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  53. ^ "Lisa Raitt steps down as finance critic, in apparent move to Conservative party leadership bid | Toronto Star". Retrieved 2016-10-14. 
  54. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Milton, 30 September 2015
  55. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates

External links[edit]