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Chris Stockwell

Personal data
Date of birthMarch 09, 1957(age 59)
Place of birthLondon, Ontario
Political partyProgressive Conservative
OccupationPolitical consultant
MPP for Etobicoke Centre
In office1999 - 2003
Succeeded byDonna Cansfield
Preceded bynew riding
MPP for Etobicoke West
In office1990 - 1999
Succeeded byriding abolished
Preceded byLinda LeBourdais

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Chris Stockwell (born March 9, 1957) is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. He was a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 2003, and served as a cabinet minister in the governments of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. Before entering provincial politics, he had been a member of Toronto city council. Stockwell's father, Bill Stockwell, was also a Progressive Conservative politician.

Stockwell was elected as a city of Etobicoke controller in 1982, and held the position until his election to the Metropolitan Toronto council in November 1988. He represented Lakeshore-Queensway, in the Etobicoke region, and also served as chair of the Metro O’Keefe Centre for the Performing Arts during this period.

Stockwell was elected to the Ontario provincial legislature in the 1990 provincial election, defeating incumbent Liberal Linda LeBourdais by about 4,000 votes in Etobicoke West. Almost immediately after the election, he accepted a generous payout from city council in lieu of time served. The New Democratic Party won the election, and Stockwell sat on the opposition benches for the next five years.

The Tories won a significant majority in the provincial election of 1995, and Stockwell was easily elected in his own riding. Despite his experience, he was not appointed to cabinet by the new Premier, Mike Harris. He soon developed a reputation as a maverick, representing centrist conservative views in a party dominated by right-wingers.

Stockwell was elected Speaker of the Assembly on October 3, 1996, after Al McLean was forced to resign from the position. He was not Mike Harris's preferred choice for the position (the Premier supported Margaret Marland) but won with support from members in all three parties. Stockwell won a reputation for independence in the Speaker's chair, and was not afraid to criticize members of his own party.

Stockwell played a key role in the anti-megacity filibuster of 1997, where the Opposition parties proposed thousands of amendments identical except for a few words. He ruled against the government when they moved that the legislature did not need to vote on each amendment, but in their favor when they suggested that the identical text did not need to be read aloud each time.

In the provincial election of 1999, Stockwell's personal popularity was such that he was able to win an easy re-election in the redistributed riding of Etobicoke Centre, despite his party's losses in other Toronto ridings. On June 17, 1999, he was appointed to cabinet as Minister of Labour.

Despite Stockwell's reputation as a Red Tory , he implemented a number of right-wing policy directives as Labour Minister. He was largely credited with shepherding through the legislature a bill to increase the maximum work-week to 60 hours, and also promoted the Harris government's "Workplace Democracy Act", which made union organization more difficult. In addition to the Labour portfolio, Stockwell also served as Commissioner of the Board of Internal Economy for a few months in 2001.

Stockwell was a candidate to succeed Mike Harris in the 2002 PC leadership campaign. During this campaign, he claimed that the right-wing initiatives of Harris's "Common Sense Revolution" were necessary in 1995, but no longer made sense in 2003. He won little support from party insiders, and placed last with 4% of the vote. He supported Ernie Eves, the winning candidate, on the second ballot.

On April 15, 2002, Eves appointed Stockwell as Government House Leader and Minister of Environment and Energy. The Energy and Environment portfolios were broken up on August 22, 2002, with Stockwell keeping Environment.

On June 17, 2003, he resigned from cabinet in the wake of a controversy concerning the misuse of expenses. An inquiry under Justice Osborne found that Stockwell had breached the Members Integrity Act with expenses claimed on a trip to Europe. His riding association had paid for his family to accompany him, using tax-deductible political donations; it was also alleged that Stockwell charged $10,000 to Ontario Power Generation as part of the trip. Previously, he had claimed $3000 in bar bills for himself and his staff as government expenses.

On July 25, 2003, Stockwell announced that he would not run in the 2003 election.

Stockwell was known for his oratorical skills and was arguably the best speaker on the government benches. Along with Liberal George Smitherman, he was perhaps the most energetic speaker in the legislature from 1999 to 2003. He is currently employed as a political consultant.

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