Tony Clement

From Academic Kids

Anthony (Tony) Peter Clement (born January 27, 1961 in Manchester, England) is a conservative Canadian politician. He was a candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada after its formation from the merger of the old Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance parties in 2004, but lost to Stephen Harper.

Born Tony Panayi to a Greek-Cypriot father and Canadian mother in Britain, Clement immigrated to Canada in childhood with his mother and later adopted his last name from his stepfather, Ontario politician John Clement.

As a student conservative activist, Clement first attracted the attention of the media in 1985 when he invited apartheid South Africa's Ambassador to Canada, Glenn Babb, to speak at the University of Toronto. He was also an open admirer of Margaret Thatcher's government in the United Kingdom.

A graduate of the University of Toronto, he completed degrees in political science in 1983 and law in 1986, and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1988.

Clement became president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario in 1990 and was a close ally of then-party leader Mike Harris. He served as Harris's Assistant Principal Secretary from 1992 to 1995, and played a leading role in drafting policy directives for the "Common Sense Revolution".

He was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the provincial election of 1995, defeating incumbent Liberal Bob Callahan by over 6,000 votes in the riding of Brampton South. After serving as a parliamentary assistant for two years, he was appointed Minister of Transportation on October 10, 1997. He also represented the Progressive Conservative government on a variety of televised discussion panels, and won a reputation as a rising star in the party.

Clement was re-elected in the provincial election of 1999, defeating Liberal candidate Vic Dhillon by over 8,000 votes. He was promoted to Minister of the Environment on June 17, 1999, and served in this capacity until May 3, 2000. (He was perhaps fortunate to have been transferred out of the position just before an outbreak of E. coli in Walkerton, Ontario, as a result of a contaminated water system.) He was also appointed Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on October 25, 1999, and held this position until February 8, 2001.

Clement also became involved in federal politics in 2000, sitting on the steering committee for the United Alternative. This initiative was meant to provide a framework for the Reform Party and Progressive Conservative Party to unite under a single banner. It did not accomplish this end, but nonetheless led to the formation of the Canadian Alliance later in the year; Clement served as the Alliance's founding President.

On February 8, 2001, Clement was appointed Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. When Mike Harris resigned as party leader, Clement ran to succeed him in the party's 2002 leadership election. During this campaign, his personal and professional relationships with rival candidate Jim Flaherty deteriorated significantly. Although both represented the right-wing of the party, the atmosphere between them became poisoned through a series of personal attacks (some have suggested that Flaherty's campaign was behind a scurrilous broadside that described Clement's wife as a lawyer for abortion doctors).

Clement finished third on the first ballot, and threw his support to victorious candidate Ernie Eves on the second. When Eves became Premier, he kept Clement in the Health portfolio.

As Health Minister, Clement revealed himself to be an effective administrator, and impressed some who had previously regarded him as a narrow, ideological figure. He received particular accolades for his management of the SARS crisis that hit Toronto in the summer of 2003. As against this, he was often criticized for being too right-wing to administer the province's medicare system earning himself the nickname "two-tier Tony."

During the SARS crisis, Clement noted that he hadn't been aware that most nurses had to keep down more than one job to make ends meet and described the health system as "close to collapse". Critics point out that it was the policies of his Tory government, particularly cuts to health in the first years of the Harris government, privatization of parts of the system and the laying off of thousands of nurses, that led to the system's near collapse in the face of crisis.

The Eves government was defeated in the 2003 provincial election, and Clement lost to Vic Dhillon by about 2,500 votes in a rematch from 1999. His defeat was unexpected, and was regarded as a significant blow to the party's rebuilding process.

Soon after the election, Clement declared himself a candidate for the leadership of the new Conservative Party of Canada. His support base was undercut by the candidacy of Belinda Stronach, however, and he placed third with only 9% of the party's leadership vote.

He then sought election as the Conservative Party candidate in Brampton West in the 2004 federal election, but lost to Liberal incument Colleen Beaumier by about 3,500 votes. Conservative Member of Parliament John Reynolds told the National Post in April, 2005, that Clement is seriously considering running in the next federal election expected sometime in 2005. This was confirmed the following month when Clement was nominated to the Conservative ticket in the riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka, against Liberal incumbent, Andy Mitchell.

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