Attorney General of Ontario

Last updated

Attorney General of Ontario
Tbs-visualidentity-COA-Blk (3) copy.svg
Doug Downey
since June 20, 2019
Executive Council of Ontario
Style The Honourable
Term length At His Majesty’s Pleasure
Inaugural holder John Sandfield Macdonald as Attorney General of Ontario
Website Office of the Attorney General
The Attorney General of Ontario's main office (McMurtry-Scott Building) in downtown Toronto Ontario MAG building.jpeg
The Attorney General of Ontario's main office (McMurtry-Scott Building) in downtown Toronto

The Attorney General of Ontario is the chief legal adviser to His Majesty the King in Right of Ontario and, by extension, the Government of Ontario. The Attorney General is a senior member of the Executive Council of Ontario (the cabinet) and oversees the Ministry of the Attorney General – the department responsible for the oversight of the justice system in the province of Ontario. The Attorney General is an elected Member of Provincial Parliament who is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario on the constitutional advice of the Premier of Ontario.


The goal of the Ministry of the Attorney General is to provide a fair and accessible justice system that reflects the needs of the diverse communities it serves across government and the province. The Ministry represents the largest justice system in Canada and one of the largest in North America. It strives to manage the justice system in an equitable, affordable and accessible way throughout the province.

Doug Downey was appointed Attorney General of Ontario on 20 June 2019, replacing Caroline Mulroney.


The Attorney General has the authority to represent the provincial government in court personally, but this task is almost always delegated to crown attorneys, or to crown counsel in civil cases. Both Ian Scott and Roy McMurtry, who were prominent courtroom lawyers before entering politics, acted for Ontario in constitutional appeals before the Supreme Court of Canada. [1]

Most holders of the office have been practising lawyers or had legal training. Marion Boyd was the only Attorney General who was not a lawyer until Caroline Mulroney's appointment. Although Mulroney studied and practised law in the United States, she is not legally able to practise law in Canada.


The Ministry of the Attorney General delivers and administers a wide range of justice services, including:

  1. administering approximately 115 statutes;
  2. conducting criminal proceedings throughout Ontario;
  3. providing legal advice to, and conducting litigation on behalf of, all government ministries and many agencies, boards and tribunals;
  4. providing advice on, and drafting, all legislation and regulations; and
  5. coordinating and administering court services throughout Ontario.

The Ontario Crown Attorney's Office, the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, the Office of the Children's Lawyer (formerly called the Official Guardian), and the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) all fall within the Ministry's responsibilities. The Ministry also partially funds Legal Aid Ontario, which is administered by an independent board and also receives funding through the Law Foundation of Ontario and from the federal government.


In 2008, Office of the Independent Police Review Director (IPRD) was established under the authority of the AG, as a civilian body with powers invested through Public Inquiries Act to investigate complaints about municipal police forces and the Ontario Provincial Police. [2] [3] [4]

Following the 2013 release of former Supreme Court judge Frank Iacobucci's report on the relationship between Aboriginal peoples and the Ontario justice system, [5] a position of deputy attorney general with responsibility for Aboriginal issues was created. [6] [3]

List of attorneys-general

Attorneys-general of Upper Canada

1. John White (Frontenac County) 1791–1800
2. Robert Isaac Dey Gray 1800–1801
3. Thomas Scott 1801–1806
4. William Firth 1807–1812
5. G. D'Arcy Boulton 1814–1818
6. Sir John Robinson, 1st Baronet, of Toronto 1818–1829, acting AG 1812–1814
7. Henry John Boulton 1829–1833
8. Robert Sympson Jameson 1833–1837, last British-appointed AG
9. Christopher Alexander Hagerman 1837–1840, first Canadian-born AG of Upper Canada
10. William Henry Draper 1840–1841, last AG of Upper Canada

Attorneys-general of the Province of Canada (Canada West)

In 1841, the Province of Upper Canada became the District of Canada West in the Province of Canada

11. William Henry Draper 1841–1843
12. Robert Baldwin 1843–1848
13. William Buell Richards 1848–1854
14. John A. Macdonald 1854–1862, 1864–1867
15. John Sandfield Macdonald 1862–1864

After 1867, the Attorney General position was split into federal and provincial counterparts:

Attorney General of Ontario
Attorney General of Quebec (renamed the Ministry of Justice in 1965)
Attorney General of Canada

Attorneys-general of Ontario, since Confederation

PortraitNameTerm of officeTenurePolitical party
1 John S Macdonald-crop.jpg John Sandfield MacDonald July 16, 1867December 20, 18714 years, 157 days Liberal

While Premier
2 AdamCrooks23.jpg Adam Crooks December 20, 1871October 25, 1872310 days Liberal
3 Oliver Mowat.jpg Oliver Mowat October 31, 1872July 21, 189623 years, 264 days Liberal
While Premier
4 Arthur Sturgis Hardy.jpg Arthur S. Hardy July 21, 1896October 21, 18993 years, 92 days Liberal
While Premier
5 John Morison Gibson.jpg John Morison Gibson October 21, 1899November 22, 19045 years, 32 days Liberal
6 Francis Robert Latchford.jpg Francis Robert Latchford November 22, 1904February 8, 190578 days
7 James Whitney.jpg James Whitney February 8, 1905May 30, 1905111 days Conservative
While Premier
8 JamesJosephFoy23.jpg James Joseph Foy May 30, 1905October 2, 19149 years, 125 days
9 Isaac Benson Lucas.jpg Isaac Benson Lucas December 22, 1914November 14, 19194 years, 327 days Conservative
10 WilliamEdgarRaney.jpg William Raney November 14, 1919July 16, 19233 years, 244 days United Farmers
11 William Folger Nickle.png William Folger Nickle July 16, 1923October 18, 19263 years, 94 days Conservative
12 William Herbert Price.png William Herbert Price October 18, 1926December 15, 19307 years, 265 days
December 15, 1930July 10, 1934 Conservative
13 Arthur Roebuck July 10, 1934April 14, 19372 years, 278 days Liberal
Resigned from cabinet to protest Hepburn's handling of the United Auto Workers strike.
14 Paul Leduc April 15, 1937October 12, 1937180 daysInterim Attorney General upon Roebuck's resignation, while Minister of Mines
15 Gordon Daniel Conant.jpg Gordon Daniel Conant October 12, 1937October 21, 19425 years, 218 daysConant remained Attorney General when he served as Premier. He resigned both position on May 18, 1943.
October 21, 1942May 18, 1943 Liberal
16 Eric Cross May 18, 1943August 17, 194391 days Liberal
Concurrently Minister of Municipal Affairs
17 Leslie Blackwell August 17, 1943October 19, 19485 years, 260 days PC
October 19, 1948May 4, 1949 PC
18 Dana Porter.JPG Dana Porter May 4, 1949August 17, 19556 years, 105 days PC
19 Kelso Roberts (cropped).jpg Kelso Roberts August 17, 1955November 8, 19617 years, 69 days
November 8, 1961October 25, 1962 PC
20 Fred Cass October 25, 1962March 23, 19641 year, 150 days
21 Arthur Wishart March 26, 1964March 1, 19716 years, 340 daysStyled as Minister of Justice and Attorney General from May 18, 1966
22 Allan Lawrence March 1, 1971February 2, 1972338 days PC
Styled as Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Also served as Provincial Secretary for Justice from January 5, 1972, to September 28, 1972).
23 Dalton Bales February 2, 1972February 26, 19742 years, 24 daysStyled as Minister of Justice and Attorney General from February 2, 1972, until April 10, 1972.
24 Robert Stanley Welch February 26, 1974July 18, 19751 year, 142 days
(first instance)
Concurrently Provincial Secretary for Justice
25 John Clement January 14, 1975October 7, 1975266 daysConcurrently Provincial Secretary for Justice and Solicitor General (June 18, 1975 - October 7, 1975).
26 Roy McMurtry October 7, 1975February 8, 19859 years, 124 daysConcurrently Solicitor General (September 11, 1978 – February 13, 1982). The ministry headquarters is named jointly after McMurtry and Ian Scott
24 Robert Stanley Welch February 8, 1985May 17, 198598 days
(second instance)
(1 year, 240 days in total)
Cocurrently Deputy Premier
27 Alan Pope May 17, 1985June 26, 198540 days
28 Ian Scott June 26, 1985October 1, 19905 years, 97 days Liberal
Concurrently Minister Responsible for Native Affairs, interim Solicitor General (February 3, 1986 – January 9, 1987; June 6, 1989 – August 2, 1989). The ministry headquarters is named jointly after Scott and Roy McMurtry
29 Howard Hampton small.png Howard Hampton October 1, 1990February 3, 19932 years, 125 days NDP
30 Marion Boyd February 3, 1993June 26, 19952 years, 143 daysStyled as Minister of Justice and Attorney General. First woman to serve as Attorney General. Only Attorney General who was not a lawyer.
31 Charles Harnick, Attorney General of Ontario, 1995-1999.JPG Charles Harnick June 26, 1995June 17, 19993 years, 356 days PC
Concurrently Minister Responsible for Native Affairs
32 Jim Flaherty 2007.JPG Jim Flaherty June 17, 1999February 7, 20011 year, 235 daysConcurrently Minister Responsible for Native Affairs
33 David Young February 8, 2001April 15, 20022 years, 17 daysConcurrently Minister Responsible for Native Affairs
April 15, 2002February 25, 2003 PC
34 Norm Sterling February 25, 2003October 22, 2003239 daysConcurrently Minister Responsible for Native Affairs
35 Michael J. Bryant October 23, 2003October 30, 20074 years, 7 days Liberal
Concurrently Minister Responsible for Native Affairs and Minister Responsible for Democratic Renewal (October 23, 2003 – June 29, 2005).
36 Chris Bentley October 30, 2007October 20, 20113 years, 355 daysConcurrently Minister Responsible for Native Affairs (January 18, 2010 – October 20, 2011)
37 John Gerretsen October 20, 2011February 11, 20132 years, 156 days
February 11, 2013March 25, 2014 Liberal
38 Madeleine Meilleur June 24, 2014June 13, 20161 year, 355 daysConcurrently Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs. First francophone to serve as Attorney General.
39 Naqvi yasir ottawa (cropped).JPG Yasir Naqvi June 13, 2016June 29, 20182 years, 16 daysFirst visible-minority and first Muslim to serve as Attorney General.
40 Caroline Mulroney attending ROMA Conference (cropped).jpg Caroline Mulroney June 29, 2018June 20, 2019356 days PC
Concurrently Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs.
41 Doug Downey.png Doug Downey June 20, 2019present4 years, 194 days

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  1. 1976 Reference re: Anti-Inflation Act, 1981 Reference re: Resolution to amend the Constitution, and Reference re Bill 30, An Act to Amend the Education Act
  2. "Gerry McNeilly Nominated As Director Of New Police Review System". May 2, 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  3. 1 2 Wallace, Kenyon (July 24, 2010). "Police complaint director thrust into limelight". National Post. Retrieved December 30, 2018. As the province's newly minted Independent Police Review Director, Mr. McNeilly is tasked with handling all public complaints against police in Ontario
  4. McNeilly, Gerry (December 2018). Broken Trust: Indigenous People and the Thunder Bay Police Service (PDF) (Report). Toronto, Ontario: Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). p. 208. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  5. Talaga, Tanya (February 2, 2013). "Ontario's justice system in a 'crisis' for aboriginals: Frank Iacobucci report". The Toronto Star. Toronto. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  6. Guttsman, Janet (June 1, 2015). "A new portfolio". Canadian Lawyer Magazine . Archived from the original on April 30, 2016. Retrieved January 4, 2017.