Walter Thomas Lastewka
|Member of Parliament
for St. Catharines
|Preceded by||Ken Atkinson|
|Succeeded by||Rick Dykstra|
October 11, 1940 |
|Residence||St. Catharines, Ontario|
|Profession||executive manager, industrial engineer|
Walter Thomas "Walt" Lastewka, PC (born October 11, 1940) is a Canadian politician. He was a member of the Canadian House of Commons from 1993 to 2006, representing the Ontario riding of St. Catharines as a member of the Liberal Party.
Early life and career
Lastewka was born in Montreal, Quebec and was educated at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (known at the time as Ryerson Technical Institute) in Toronto, receiving a diploma in 1963. He was hired as an industrial engineer by General Motors in the same year, was promoted to supervisor of industrial engineering in 1967, and held several managerial positions before his retirement in 1992. He completed the three-week-long University of Western Ontario Executive Program in 1981. Lastewka has been involved in several community activities, including serving as a director of the United Way and as a trustee of Brock University. He is also a former director and parish chairman for St. John's Ukrainian Church. In the early 1990s, he was head of the St. Catharines Promotion Task Force.
Lastewka joined the St. Catharines branch of the Liberal Party in 1972, and worked as campaign manager to federal MP Gilbert Parent in every election between 1974 and 1988. He was vice-president of organization for the Ontario Liberal Party from 1979 to 1981, and chaired provincial campaigns for Jim Bradley and Harry Pelissero. He was elected to parliament in the 1993 election, defeating incumbent Progressive Conservative Ken Atkinson by a significant margin.
He served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Industry from 1997 to 1999, and as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services from 2003 to 2006. Before the 2004 election, he held special responsibility for matters relating to procurement review.
A Hamilton Spectator newspaper report from 1996 described Lastewka as "one of the most hardworking, effective parliamentarians" in office. He spearheaded a movement to clean up the St. Catharines Twelve Mile Creek during his first term, and used his knowledge of government bureaucracy to expedite the city's bid to host the 1999 World Rowing Championships. Lastewka supported Paul Martin's bid to succeed Jean Chrétien as Liberal Party leader during the 1990s, and was one of the first Liberal MPs to call for Chrétien's resignation in 2000. It was reported that a 2002 telephone conversation between Lastewka and Chrétien turned heated, with Lastewka claiming that the Liberal government under Chrétien hadn't "done a damn thing" for Niagara.
In 1995, Lastewka criticized the Government of Canada for attempting to deport Johann Dueck, a constituent who had been accused of committing war crimes during World War II. The government asserted that Dueck was the deputy chief in a police unit that participated in Nazi atrocities and charged him with having obtained Canadian citizenship in 1948 by concealing his past. Dueck denied the charges, saying that he had been conscripted by the Nazis at gunpoint to work as a translator. Lastewka argued that if Dueck was to be charged, it should have been under a 1987 law that allowed accused war criminals to be tried domestically in Canada. Referring to the deportation procedure, he was quoted as saying "I feel very uncomfortable that we have to go back 50 years to correct whatever happened then [...] My heart goes out to them and their family and their friends." He pledged to help the family in any way he could. Lastewka was criticized for these comments by the Toronto Star newspaper and some Canadian Jewish leaders, including Sol Littman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. The charges against Dueck were dismissed in 1998, when Justice Marc Noel found that the government had not proven he was a war criminal or even a member of the police unit in question. He was not deported, and a subsequent editorial in the Globe and Mail newspaper described him as having been "clearly innocent of the charges."
Also in 1995, Lastewka petitioned the government for an inquiry into the way crown officials handled the prosecution of Karla Homolka. Homolka, a former resident of St. Catharines, was given a twelve-year sentence through a plea-bargain despite having assisted her husband, Paul Bernardo, in the rape and murder of two young girls. Lastewka argued that the sentence was far too lenient and called for a review of the negotiation process. He later called for Senator Michel Biron to resign in 2005, after Biron wrote a letter opposing restrictions on Homolka following her release. Lastewka said that he was "appalled" by Biron's letter and wrote that the Senator displayed "complete and utter disregard" for the families of Homolka's victims. In light of these and other criticisms, Biron offered an apology.
Lastewka holds socially conservative views on some issues. He voted against Bill C-33 (1996), which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as a prohibited basis for discrimination. He later voted against Bill C38 (2005), which legalized same-sex marriage rights in Canada. However, he later argued that the Canadian government should accept the legal status of same-sex marriages and not revisit the issue. Local gay rights activist Ted Mouradian endorsed Lastewka in 2005, arguing that he was a better candidate than his Conservative opponent.
On March 22, 2007, Lastewka was acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate for St. Catharines in the next [[40th Canadian federal election|federal election]]. However, Lastewka was defeated by an increased margin in the 2008 election.
|Canadian federal election, 2008|
|New Democratic||George Addision||9,428||18.4%||--2.1%||$21,329|
|Total valid votes/Expense limit||51,144||100%||$88,319|
|Canadian federal election, 2006: St. Catharines|
|New Democratic||Jeff Burch||11,849||20.5||+1.2||$15,482.42|
|Christian Heritage||Bill Bylsma||499||0.9||−0.5||$8,736.24|
|Total valid votes||57,846||100.0|
|Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.|
|Canadian federal election, 2004: St. Catharines|
|New Democratic||Ted Mouradian||10,135||19.3||+13.1||$13,554.17|
|Christian Heritage||Linda Klassen||751||1.4||–||$15,303.13|
|Canadian Action||Jane Elizabeth Paxton||204||0.4||–||$0.00|
|Total valid votes||52,616||100.0|
|Total rejected ballots||240|
|Electors on the lists||85,209|
|Percentage change figures are factored for redistribution.
Conservative Party percentages are contrasted with the combined Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative percentages from 2000.
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
|Canadian federal election, 2000: St. Catharines|
|Alliance||Randy Taylor Dumont||15,871||34.0||+3.0||$65,538.72|
|Progressive Conservative||Ken Atkinson||6,522||14.0||+0.6||$20,495.69|
|New Democratic||John Bacher||2,878||6.2||−3.4||$12,153.96|
|Natural Law||Jim Morris||203||0.4||−0.1||$0.00|
|Total valid votes||46,725||100.0|
|Total rejected ballots||223|
|Electors on the lists||78,215|
|Sources: Note: Canadian Alliance vote is compared to the Reform vote in 1997 election
Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
|Canadian federal election, 1997: St. Catharines|
|Progressive Conservative||Gregg Crealock||6,503||13.4||−1.6||$25,799|
|New Democratic||Ed Gould||4,657||9.6||+3.8||$24,683|
|Christian Heritage||Tristan Emmanuel||688||1.4||+0.2||$7,249|
|Canadian Action||G.L. Malcolm||308||0.6||–||$2,976|
|Natural Law||Helene Darisse||245||0.5||–||$0.00|
|Total valid votes||48,511||100.0|
|Total rejected ballots||272|
|Electors on the lists||74,484|
|Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.|
|Canadian federal election, 1993: St. Catharines|
|Progressive Conservative||Ken Atkinson||7,448||15.25||$40,187|
|New Democratic||Jane Hughes||2,799||5.73||$10,877|
|Christian Heritage||David W. Bylsma||568||1.16||$3,349|
|Total valid votes||45,652||100.0|
|Total rejected ballots||383|
|Total valid votes||49,223||68.44|
|Electors on the lists||71,919|
|Source: Thirty-fifth General Election, 1993: Official Voting Results, Published by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Financial figures taken from official contributions and expenses provided by Elections Canada.|
All electoral information is taken from Elections Canada. Italicized expenditures from elections after 1997 refer to submitted totals, and are presented when the final reviewed totals are not available. Expenditures from 1997 refer to submitted totals.
- Agnes Bongers, "Garden City's $3-million ad campaign brings in seven jobs after 18 months", Hamilton Spectator, 10 December 1991, B5.
- Joan Bryden, "Few seals on ship of state", Hamilton Spectator, 26 December 1996, A01.
- William Walker, "Martin secretly prepares campaign", Toronto Star, 16 March 2000, p. 1.
- Doug Herod, "Lack of Niagara profile coming back to haunt Chrétien", St. Catharines Standard, 20 June 2002, A3.
- David Vienneau, "MP slams bid to oust Nazi", Toronto Star, 6 May 1995, A10.
- "MP rebuked for soft line on war crimes", Toronto Star, 7 May 1995, A16.
- "MP rebuked for soft line on war crimes", Toronto Star, 7 May 1995, A16; "It's still a crime" [editorial], Toronto Star, 9 May 1995, A22.
- "Pursuing Johann Dueck" [editorial], Globe and Mail, 23 February 1999, A16; Paul Legall, "$1.77m paid to men cleared of Nazi charges", Hamilton Spectator, 6 December 2001, A12.
- Rob Andrus, "Hometown petitions fight Homolka deal", Toronto Star, 3 September 1995, A7.
- Grant Robertson, "Tory MP blasts senator over controversial comments", Montreal Gazette, 14 June 2005, A14.
- Journals (No. 043) — 35-2 — House of Commons, Parliament of Canada
- Canadian Press, "Former NDP candidate in Ont. riding urging residents to vote for Liberals", Canadian Press, 21 December 2005, 20:01 report.
- "Lastewka acclaimed as Liberal candidate". Liberal Party of Canada. March 22, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-14.