Tony O'Donohue

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Tony O'Donohue
Toronto City Councillor for Parkdale (Ward 3/4)
In office
Preceded byArt Eggleton
Succeeded byMario Silva
Toronto City Councillor for Parkdale (Ward 2)
In office
Preceded byArchie Chisholm
Succeeded byTony Ruprecht
Toronto City Councillor for Trinity-Bellwoods (Ward 4/5)
In office
Preceded byJoe Piccininni
Succeeded byArt Eggleton
Personal details
Born1933 (age 85–86)
The Burren, County Clare, Ireland
OccupationProfessional engineer

Anthony "Tony" O'Donohue (born 1933) is a former municipal politician in Toronto, Ontario.

Early life[edit]

Born in The Burren, County Clare, Ireland (then Irish Free State), O'Donohue graduated as a civil engineer from University College, Galway in 1954. He moved to Toronto in 1956 to pursue his profession as a municipal engineer designing urban services such as roads, water supply, sewage treatment, storm water run-off and waste management.

Inspired by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson's initiative for a new flag for Canada, O'Donohue joined the Young Liberals in the early 1960s and made many trips to Ottawa with other Young Liberals to support the new flag proposal. As one of the party's first advocates for environmental causes, he encouraged the Young Liberals to become active in environmental issues. His Liberal Party national convention papers on water supply and sewage treatment received national attention.[citation needed]

City Council[edit]

He was elected as a Toronto City Council alderman in the 1966 municipal election. As an engineer, he focused on the need for a clearer understanding of the environment and, as a reformer, encouraged a new approach to local politics. He ran for Toronto mayor in 1972, losing to David Crombie, and again in 1978 to John Sewell. His 1978 defeat to the left-wing Sewell was seen as a result of vote splitting between O'Donohue and David Smith, a Liberal.[citation needed]

O'Donohue and colleague Art Eggleton had agreed that only one of them should run against Sewell for mayor in 1980. They were to conduct a public opinion poll to determine which of them had the better chance of toppling the incumbent Mayor. However, according to O'Donohue's memoirs, Eggleton broke the pact and unilaterally declared himself a mayoralty candidate forcing O'Donohue to stay out of the race in order not to split the vote.[1][2]

O'Donohue was returned to City Council following a by-election after the death of City Councillor George Ben in 1980. He spent the next 14 years working to address the many energy and environmental problems facing urban areas.

In April 1989, O'Donohue introduced a by-law at City Council to ban the manufacture, sale, distribution and use of ozone depleting substances. It was the first such legislation anywhere and became a model for other cities. As a result, he was invited to make a presentation on the Toronto by-law at the Beckman Institute of the National Academies of Science and Engineering, in Irvine, California. While there, he consulted world-renowned chemist and later Nobel laureate Frank Sherwood Rowland on how to help prevent the dumping of ozone depleting substances into the atmosphere.

In 1992, he presented a motion to City Council to adopt a by-law prohibiting anyone from lying, sleeping or blocking city sidewalks.[3] He argued that the city paid millions of dollars to make sufficient beds available for the homeless and there was no need for anyone to lie or sleep on the sidewalks. The motion lost and sleeping on the sidewalks has remained part of the landscape in downtown Toronto streets.

In the 1994 municipal election, he was defeated in Ward 3 by 28-year-old Mario Silva. The result was very close and subject to several recounts before the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that Silva had won by 15 votes.[4]

After politics[edit]

Since leaving politics, O'Donohue operated his own company until 2004, Environmental Probe Ltd., which helped developers fulfill the requirements of environmental assessments and laws.

O'Donohue's son, Daniel, works for the city of Toronto as an evaluator of expropriated land.[5]


An active supporter of Citizens for a Canadian Republic,[6][7] O'Donohue made news in 2002 as a result of his legal challenge to the Act of Settlement barring Roman Catholics from the throne of Canada. He filed an application to the Ontario Superior Court, O'Donohue v. Her Majesty The Queen, calling on the court to strike down the discriminatory sections of the act as being in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. His case was dismissed in 2003 and his appeal was subsequently denied.[8][9]

In the present case the court is being asked to apply the Charter not to rule on the validity of acts or decisions of the Crown, one of the branches of our government, but rather to disrupt the core of how the monarchy functions... To do this would make the constitutional principle of Union under the British Crown together with other Commonwealth countries unworkable, would defeat a manifest intention expressed in the preamble of our Constitution, and would have the courts overstep their role in our democratic structure... In conclusion, the lis raised in the present application is not justiciable and there is no serious issue to be tried. Public interest standing should not be granted. Given my ruling on these issues I need not deal with the other considerations that apply to the granting of public interest standing. The application is dismissed."

Toronto Atmospheric Fund[edit]

Following the Changing Atmosphere Conference in July, 1988, O’Donohue embarked a plan to make Toronto a leading world city in urban environmental issues. He convinced City Council to apply to the province for special legislation to set up the Toronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF). In December 1992, approval was given.

As a member of the City Executive Committee, O’Donohue convinced City Council that $23 million – 20% of the moneys received by the City from the sale of its Jail Farm – should be given to TAF and he was appointed chairman.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dube, Francine. He didn't 'make many friends in politics': Former minister has reputation as a ladies' man. National Post. May 28, 2002, p. A11
  2. ^ Monsebraaten, Laurie. A tiny perfect '70s lesson? Memories of Crombie, Sewell 3-way race could favour dark horse. Toronto Star. November 8, 2003, p. B01 According to the article, fundraiser Ralph Lean claims that former Metro chair Paul Godfrey and several powerful businessmen got together before the 1980 vote and decided to support Art Eggleton.
  3. ^ Alexandra Highcrest, In Search of Mario Silva. Eye Weekly. February 22, 1996, "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-05-21.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  4. ^ No Byline. Court ends seesaw council battle. Globe and Mail. December 15, 1995, p. A2
  5. ^ Barber, John. City to settle over legal mire of sludge deal. Globe and Mail. October 27, 2005, p. A23
  6. ^ Adrian Humphreys, "Anti-monarchy group joins Catholic's fight: Citizens for a republic: Lawsuit challenges act limiting succession to Protestant line", National Post, September 25, 2002
  7. ^ O'Neill, Juliet, "The fight for the Republic of Canada: Critics of the monarchy say it has hindered our growth as a nation", Ottawa Citizen, October 2, 2002
  8. ^ O'Donohue, Tony, "Why Canada must take on Britain over the 1701 Act of Settlement", Globe and Mail, August 30, 2007
  9. ^ "Law barring Catholics from throne upheld: Act of Settlement: Ontario court quashes lawsuit against Crown", National Post, July 2, 2003


External links[edit]