Sinclair Stevens

Last updated
The Honourable
Sinclair Stevens
Sinclair Stevens photo by Djuradj Vujcic.jpg
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for York—Simcoe
In office
Preceded by John Roberts
Succeeded byRiding dissolved
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for York—Peel
In office
Preceded byRiding created
Succeeded byRiding dissolved
President of the Treasury Board
In office
Preceded by Judd Buchanan
Succeeded by Donald Johnston
Leader of the Progressive Canadian Party
In office
December 1, 2007 November 30, 2016
Preceded by Tracy Parsons
Succeeded by Joe Hueglin (Interim)
Personal details
BornSinclair McKnight Stevens
(1927-02-11)February 11, 1927
Esquesing Township, Ontario
Died November 30, 2016(2016-11-30) (aged 89)
King Township, Ontario
Political party Progressive Canadian Party
Other political
Progressive Conservative Party of Canada (until 2003)
Residence King Township, Ontario
Profession businessman, politician, lawyer

Sinclair McKnight Stevens, PC (February 11, 1927 – November 30, 2016 [1] ) was a Canadian lawyer, businessman and cabinet minister.

Queens Privy Council for Canada

The Queen's Privy Council for Canada (QPC), sometimes called Her Majesty's Privy Council for Canada or simply the Privy Council, is the full group of personal consultants to the monarch of Canada on state and constitutional affairs. Responsible government, though, requires the sovereign or her viceroy, the Governor General of Canada, to almost always follow only that advice tendered by the Cabinet: a committee within the Privy Council composed usually of elected Members of Parliament. Those summoned to the QPC are appointed for life by the governor general as directed by the Prime Minister of Canada, meaning that the group is composed predominantly of former cabinet ministers, with some others having been inducted as an honorary gesture. Those in the council are accorded the use of an honorific style and post-nominal letters, as well as various signifiers of precedence.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, several of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.


Early life

He was born in Esquesing Township (today part of Halton Hills, Ontario), the third child of Northern Irish immigrants Robert Murray Stevens and Anna Bailey McKnight. The family later moved near Kleinburg, Ontario. [2]

Halton Hills Town in Ontario, Canada

Halton Hills is a town in the Regional Municipality of Halton, located in the northwestern end of the Greater Toronto Area, Ontario, Canada with a population of 61,161 (2016).

Ontario Province of Canada

Ontario is one of the 13 provinces and territories of Canada and is located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province accounting for 38.3 percent of the country's population, and is the second-largest province in total area. Ontario is fourth-largest in total area when the territories of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut are included. It is home to the nation's capital city, Ottawa, and the nation's most populous city, Toronto, which is also Ontario's provincial capital.

He attended Weston Collegiate Institute and later, the University of Western Ontario, class of 1950. He was active in the student newspaper and the model Parliament. He entered Osgoode Hall Law School, where he met his fellow student and future wife Noreen Mary Terese Charlebois. Noreen was one of just five women in their class. They graduated in 1955 and married in 1958. From his university days until he articled, he was a part-time reporter for the Toronto Star. [3] Stevens articled with Toronto law firm Fraser & Beatty. He later formed his own firm Stevens, Hassard & Elliot.

Weston Collegiate Institute

Weston Collegiate Institute is a Grade 9 to 12 public high school located in the York South-Weston area of Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is the second oldest high school in Toronto, after Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Weston CI is located on 100 Pine Street and has a student population of about 920.

University of Western Ontario public research university located in London, Ontario, Canada

The University of Western Ontario (UWO), corporately branded as Western University as of 2012 and commonly shortened to Western, is a public research university in London, Ontario, Canada. The main campus is located on 455 hectares of land, surrounded by residential neighbourhoods and the Thames River bisecting the campus' eastern portion. The university operates twelve academic faculties and schools. It is a member of the U15, a group of research-intensive universities in Canada.

Osgoode Hall Law School law school in Toronto, Ontario

Osgoode Hall Law School, commonly shortened to Osgoode, is the law school of York University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The school was originally founded by the Law Society of Upper Canada, and named for William Osgoode, an Oxford University graduate and barrister of Lincoln's Inn who was the first to serve as the Chief Justice of Upper Canada. The school signed an agreement of affiliation with York University in 1965 following a decision by the provincial government requiring all law schools to be affiliated with a university.

Early career

In 1958, his first development, The Cardiff, was under way. That was followed up with several other development projects. [4]

In 1962, he formed York Trust and Savings Co. Former Bank of Canada Governor James Coyne became chairman in 1963. Stevens had interests in several other small trust companies. Unusually for the time, his branches were located in working-class areas and Loblaws stores, featuring extended service hours. York Trust grew at four times the rate of other trust companies. [5]

James Coyne Governor of the Bank of Canada

James Elliott Coyne, was the second Governor of the Bank of Canada, from 1955 to 1961, succeeding Graham Towers. During his time in office, he had a much-publicized debate with Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, a debate often referred to as the "Coyne Affair", which led to his resignation and, eventually, to greater central-bank independence in Canada.

Loblaws Inc. is a Canadian supermarket chain with stores located in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Headquartered in Brampton, Ontario, Loblaws is a subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited, Canada's largest food distributor.

By 1964 Stevens controlled 23 companies with assets of $130 million, having started in 1961 with just $215,000. [6]

From 1963 to 1967 Stevens, was embroiled in an attempt to form the first new Canadian chartered bank in 50 years, Westbank. That caused resentment in several quarters. Westerners saw it as yet another eastern-controlled firm, Conservatives were put off by the association with Coyne, and the feathers of the establishment banks were ruffled. The affair led to a falling-out with Coyne and later with businessman Marc Bienvenu. [7] John Diefenbaker reportedly "loathed" Stevens over the issue. [8]

Member of Parliament

In 1968, he moved to King Township, Ontario. He was first elected to the House of Commons of Canada in the 1972 federal election as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament, defeating Liberal incumbent cabinet minister John Roberts in the riding of York-Simcoe. He won again in the elections of 1972, 1974, 1979, 1980, and 1984.

Bid for PC leadership 1976

Stevens ran as a candidate in the 1976 Progressive Conservative leadership convention. At the time, he had only three years parliamentary experience, but five of the other candidates had also entered parliament in 1972. He finished seventh (of eleven candidates) on the first ballot and withdrew in favour of the eventual winmer Joe Clark. That was seen as a surprising move, since Stevens was considered right-wing, and Clark was a moderate on the party's left wing. Mulroney would "think about Steven's dramatic walk for years to come, never pretending to understand it." [9]

Stevens had been the top official campaign spender (at $294,107), but Mulroney, who did not provide figures, is widely thought to have exceeded that amount. [10]

Cabinet minister (1979–1980, 1984–1986)

Stevens served as President of the Treasury Board in the short-lived (1979–1980) Clark government.

Stevens turned against Clark, and was an early supporter of Mulroney's leadership bid [11] which culminated in victory at the 1983 Progressive Conservative leadership convention. After the 1984 election, which resulted in a Tory landslide, Stevens became Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion.

Conflict of interest allegations and Parker Commission

As a cabinet minister, Stevens had placed his business holdings into a blind trust. He was forced to resign from Cabinet in 1986 after allegations of conflict of interest.

In December 1987, a special commission of inquiry, headed by Justice William Dickens Parker, ruled Stevens had violated conflict-of-interest allegations on fourteen counts. David Scott, brother of Ian Scott, as well as Marlys Edwardh were prominent lawyers involved in the commission, which cost more than $2.9 million. [12] Edwardh had studied search and seizure, and the Parker commission was one of the first to make extensive use of subpoena. [13] John Sopinka represented Stevens, and Ian Binnie represented Canada. [14] The ession lasted eight months, 93 witnesses were called, and nearly 14,000 pages of transcripts were recorded. [15] Scott's summation ran to 795 pages, Sopinka's 346 pages. [16]

Stevens won the party nomination in his riding once again, but Prime Minister Mulroney refused to sign Stevens's nomination papers, forcing the riding association to nominate another candidate. [17] As a result of the bitter fight, Stevens left Parliament in 1988. [18]

In December 2004, Federal Court Judge John O'Keefe declared null and void the findings of the Parker Inquiry. The court ruled that Parker's definition of conflict of interest exceeded that of the guidelines governing ministers in the Mulroney Cabinet and that the step exceeded Parker's mandate.

In voiding the definition of conflict of interest, the judge found that Stevens's behaviour did not violate the guidelines that governed him since no valid guidelines had existed. [19]

Reaction to party merger

Stevens returned to prominence as a bitter opponent of the merger of the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservatives into the Conservative Party of Canada. Stevens backed an unsuccessful lawsuit to try to block the merger. [20]

Leader of Progressive Canadian Party

In 2007, after Tracy Parsons's resignation as leader of the Progressive Canadian Party, Stevens became that party's interim leader and remained in that position until his death, nine years later. [21]


  2. McQueen, pp26-28.
  3. McQueen, pp30-32.
  4. McQueen, p34.
  5. McQueen, pp36-38.
  6. McQueen, p41.
  7. McQueen, p40, 44, 45.
  8. Sawatsky, p292.
  9. Sawatsky, p308.
  10. Sawatsky, p324.
  11. Sawatsky, p462.
  12. Gibbons, Kenneth. "Conflict of Interest". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  13. McQueen, p229.
  14. "Stevens v. Canada (Attorney General) (F.C.), 2004 FC 1746, [2005] 2 F.C.R. 629" . Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  15. McQueen, p220.
  16. McQueen, p268.
  17. Diebel, Linda (3 October 1988). "You're not wanted as Tory MP Mulroney tells Sinclair Stevens". The Toronto Star. Toronto. pp. A1–A2.
  18. Duffy, Andrew (6 October 1988). "Sinc Stevens quits for sake of party". The Toronto Star. Toronto. pp. A1, A12.
  19. "Judge throws out 1987 Sinclair Stevens conflict decision". CBC News. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 17 December 2004. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  20. "Legal Documents — Opposition to the Merger". Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  21. "Registered Political Parties and Parties Eligible for Registration". Elections Canada. 22 March 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.

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