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Ontario Elections: Ernie Eves, Tory leader

The Ontario Legislature used to be called "the dullest chamber in all of Canada." For 42 years, the Progressive Conservatives and their "Big Blue Machine" ruled the province. But 1985 ushered the PCs out and an age of turbulence in with a Liberal-NDP coalition. In the next three elections, voters handed majorities to all three parties: a sweep for the Liberals, a stunning NDP victory and a sharp right turn with Mike Harris's Common Sense Revolution. Dalton McGuinty's Liberals swept the 2003 and 2007 elections and won a third time with a minority in 2011.

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Meet Ernie Eves, possibly Ontario's next premier. If he wins the Conservative leadership race later this month he will automatically replace Mike Harris who announced his resignation as premier in October 2001. Eves vows to continue tax cuts and decrease spending -- essentially running the province Mike Harris-style. A political ally and friend of the premier from North Bay, Eves also hails from Northern Ontario.

His family relocated to Parry Sound from Windsor, Ont. where his father worked at an auto parts assembly plant. Eves, like Harris, advertises himself without pretension as a "common man." But the one difference between the two politicians evident in this CBC Television clip is clothing. Unlike Harris -- who isn't fussy about his appearance -- Eves is absolutely meticulous with his wardrobe, spending thousands of dollars on it each year. 
• Ernie Eves trained as a lawyer and was called to the bar in 1972. According to the Toronto Sun, his nickname as a young lawyer was "The Tongue."
• When he entered politics in 1981 Eves won his Parry Sound seat by just six votes. He was re-elected in every subsequent race, winning by 12,000 votes in the 1999 election. He was appointed finance minister and deputy premier by Premier Mike Harris in 1995.

• Eves left politics in February 2001 to work in the private sector as Canadian vice-president of a foreign bank. He was lured back to run as Tory leader after Harris announced his retirement six months later.
• Eves's life partner is Isabel Bassett, chair and CEO of public TV station TVOntario and a former Tory cabinet minister in the Ontario Legislature. She is also the widow of broadcasting tycoon John Bassett who died in 1998.

• After Eves took over from Harris in March 2002 the Tories were criticized for the failed privatization of the province's power system. A tax credit for parents who send their children to private schools was also controversial. Perhaps the most condemnation came with the government's decision to present the 2003 budget in a suburban auto-parts plant rather than at Queen's Park. Even the Tory house Speaker deemed it "an affront to democracy."

• Besides the three main parties, other political parties that have run in Ontario in the last 20 years are the Communist Party, the Confederation of Regions Party, the Family Coalition Party, the Freedom Party, the Green Party, the Ontario Libertarian Party and the Natural Law Party.
Medium: Television
Program: Canada Now
Broadcast Date: March 15, 2002
Guest(s): Ernie Eves
Reporter: Raj Ahluwalia
Duration: 5:05

Last updated: March 9, 2012

Page consulted on September 24, 2014

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