Frank Miller (politician)


Frank Miller (politician)

Infobox President
name = Frank Stuart Miller
small

caption = The Hon. Frank Stuart Miller
birth_date = birth date|1927|5|14|mf=y
birth_place = Toronto, Ontario, Canada
residence =
death_date = death date and age | 2000|07|21|1927|05|14
death_place = Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada
order = 19th Premier of Ontario
term_start = February 8, 1985
term_end = June 26, 1985
predecessor = Bill Davis
successor = David Peterson
party = Ontario PC Party
religion = United Church
spouse =

Frank Stuart Miller, O.Ont (May 14, 1927 – July 21, 2000) was a Canadian politician, who served as Premier of Ontario for four months in 1985.

Early life and political career

Miller was born in Toronto, and received a degree in engineering from McGill University in Montreal. He had a successful career as a professional engineer, car dealer and resort operator before entering politics in 1967 as a member of the Bracebridge town council, serving until 1970. In the 1971 Ontario provincial election, he ran for election to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Muskoka as a Progressive Conservative, and was elected. He was re-elected in the 1975, 1977 and 1981 elections.

He joined the cabinet of Premier William Davis on February 26, 1974 as Minister of Health. He planned to close a number of small hospitals and consolidate urban services after the 1975 election, but withdrew in the face of cabinet opposition. He suffered a heart attack during this period, perhaps as a result of work-related stress.

Miller became Minister of Natural Resources following a cabinet shuffle on February 3, 1977. On August 16, 1978, he was promoted to Treasurer and Minister of Economics. He also served as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs from August 16, 1978 to August 30, 1979. As Treasurer, he opposed the Davis government's Suncor purchase in 1981 and considered resigning over the issue. After another shuffle on July 6, 1983, he was named Minister of Industry and Trade.

Premier

When Davis retired, Miller defeated Larry Grossman, Roy McMurtry and Dennis Timbrell for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party in its January 1985 leadership convention. His supporters included Bette Stephenson, Philip Andrewes, George Ashe, Margaret Scrivener, Claude Bennett, Bud Gregory, Nicholas Leluk, Alan Pope, George McCague and Mike Harris.

Davis and his predecessor John Robarts were considered Red Tories and ran relatively progressive administrations that increased public investment and expanded the public sector. Under their watch, the Ontario Tories were often seen, however ironically, to be running left of the Liberals. Miller, on the other hand, was more typical of the party's base of social conservatives from Ontario's rural areas. When Davis officially stepped down on February 8, 1985, Miller became Premier.

Miller's victory created some divisions in the Progressive Conservative Party, and he had difficulty keeping order among senior party staff. He was sometimes criticized for speaking in an overly candid manner to reporters, once claiming that he would prefer to eliminate the minimum wage but could not do so for pragmatic reasons. Miller's appearance also became a political issue, after he decided to wear a loud tartan jacket to the 1983 budget ceremony. He was caricatured by some reporters as a symbol of Ontario's rural past, and seemed out of step with generational and demographic changes in the province. Senior party organizer Hugh Segal later acknowledged that the jacket probably alienated many new voters.

Minority government and defeat

Miller's Progressive Conservatives had a significant lead in the polls of around 55% (compared to the two opposition parties, in the low to mid 20s) when he called an election for May 1985, but his campaign was considered disastrous. He elicited controversy when he refused to agree to a television debate with Liberal leader David Peterson and New Democratic Party leader Bob Rae This decision is thought to have hurt Miller's standing with the public. His situation was also made more difficult by Davis's decision to extend public funding for Catholic Separate Schools to grade 13, a decision that had been left to Miller to implement. Although the policy was supported by all parties in the legislature, it was unpopular with some in the Tories' traditional rural Protestant base. Many PC voters were so upset that they simply stayed home on election day because of this issue.

In the election, the Liberals won a narrow plurality of the popular vote. However, at the time rural areas were still slightly overrepresented in the Legislative Assembly, enabling Miller to win reelection. However, the Tories were cut down to a minority government, in which the Tories had only four more seats than the Liberals and were 11 seats short of a majority. The NDP, with 25 seats, held the balance of power. After several weeks of negotiations with both parties, the NDP signed an agreement with Peterson to support a Liberal minority government.

As per this agreement, Rae introduced a Motion of No Confidence in the Miller government, which carried. As a result of the Liberal-NDP accord, Lieutenant-Governor John Black Aird asked Peterson to form a government. Miller formally resigned as Premier on June 26, 1985; ending 42 years of Progressive Conservative rule over Ontario--the longest such period in Canadian history.

Retirement

Miller resigned as Progressive Conservative leader soon afterward. He was replaced by Larry Grossman in a November 1985 leadership convention. Miller formally resigned as party leader and Leader of the Opposition in early 1986. He played only a minor role in the legislature after this time, and did not seek re-election in 1987. After leaving the legislature, Miller later became chairman of the District of Muskoka.

The Tories did not return to power in Ontario until the 1995 election, when Mike Harris, who Miller had brought to his cabinet as Minister of Natural Resources, became premier.

Miller returned to private life, dying in 2000. His son, Norm Miller, entered provincial politics in 2001, winning a by-election in the riding of Parry Sound-Muskoka after Ernie Eves resigned the seat.

succession box
before=Darcy McKeough
title=Treasurer of Ontario
years=1978-1983
after=Larry Grossman
succession box
before=David Peterson
title=Leader of the Opposition
years=1985
after=Larry Grossman


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