John Munro

John Munro

John Carr Munro, PC , BA , LL.B (March 16, 1931 - August 19, 2003) was a Canadian politician. He was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the 1962 election, and served continuously as a Member of Parliament (MP) for Hamilton, Ontario in the electoral riding of Hamilton East until his resignation in 1984 following his defeat for the leadership of the Liberal Party of Canada which was eventually won by John Turner.

Munro was appointed to Cabinet by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and served variously as Minister of Amateur Sport, Minister of Health and Welfare and Minister of Labour from 1968 to 1978 when he was forced to resign from over the "Skyshops" scandal. He returned to cabinet when Trudeau returned to power in the 1980 federal election and served as Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development throughout Trudeau's final term.

On June 21, 1981, the "Toronto Sun" ran a front-page story accusing Munro of profiting from illegal insider trading through his advance knowledge of Petro-Canada's bid to acquire Petrofina Canada. Munro sued the paper, its editors, and the two reporters for libel. Not only was there no evidence that the stock transaction described in the "Sun" had ever taken place, the corporation through which the deals were said to have been made never actually existed. Even with the "Sun"'s retraction and apology, the paper was ordered to pay Munro $75,000—at the time a very high award for a libel case in Canada. One of the reporters was fired, the other was allowed to resign.

Munro ran at the 1984 Liberal leadership convention coming in sixth. Munro attempted to return to Parliament in the 1988 general election, in the riding of Lincoln but was defeated by Progressive Conservative Shirley Martin. He again attempted to win the Liberal nomination in the riding of Lincoln in the 1993 general election, but the nomination eventually went to Tony Valeri after an acrimonious fight between Munro and the Liberal Party national office.

His leadership campaign led to trouble when Munro and his associates were investigated under the "Criminal Code" and faced 37 charges alleging illegal kickbacks to his 1984 leadership campaign and other irregularies. The charges were thrown out in 1991, but Munro's reputation was ruined, and he was nearly bankrupted by legal expenses. He sued the federal government in 1992 for compensation over being wrongfully charged. The case dragged on for seven years until the government agreed to an out-of-court settlement of $1.4 million, of which $1.2 million went to Munro's lawyers and other creditors. ["Munro legal tab hit $1.4M; Taxpayers on hook for $600,000 in extra interest, fees," Gloria Galloway, "Hamilton Spectator", July 27, 1999, p. A1.]

Hamilton's John C. Munro International Airport is named after him.


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