George William Ross

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George William Ross

Sir George William Ross (born September 18, 1841 in Nairn, Middlesex County , Upper Canada , † March 7, 1914 in Toronto , Ontario ) was a Canadian politician ( Liberal Party of Canada ). He was from 1872 to 1883 a member of the House of Commons , then until 1908 a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario . He was Ontario Minister of Education for almost 16 years. From October 20, 1899 to February 8, 1905, he ruled the Province of Ontario as Prime Minister. Finally he served as senator from 1907 .


Profession and Federal Politics

Ross was one of eight children of a farmer who immigrated from Scotland . At the age of 16 he started teaching in the local school. In 1867 he bought the Strathroy Age newspaper and tried his hand at publishing. But he was unsuccessful, as was the Seaforth Expositor in 1869 . After further training, he worked as a school inspector from 1871 . Ross began while also right to study and acquired in 1883 at Albert College in Belleville the Bachelor of Laws . From 1876 to 1880 he was a member of the highest school inspectorate for the Ontario Ministry of Education.

Ross ran unsuccessfully in the first general election in 1867 . Five years later he was successful and was elected member of the constituency of Middlesex West by 56 votes in the general election in 1872 . In Parliament in Ottawa , Ross was an inconspicuous backbencher . He was re-elected twice, each with a small margin. The result of the general election in 1882 in his constituency was challenged and overturned (he won by 54 votes). Instead of running for the by- election that had become necessary in December 1883 , he resigned from his seat.

Minister of Education in Ontario

The reason for his resignation was the change to provincial politics. Oliver Mowat , Prime Minister of Ontario, appointed Ross Minister of Education in November 1883. After a successful by-election a month later, he represented the Middlesex West constituency in the Ontario Legislative Assembly . Ross led an education reform that facilitated access to higher education. He supervised the construction of over 300 libraries, expanded the kindergarten system and created a teacher training college for the training of rectors and school inspectors. Under his leadership, the universities expanded and various small colleges merged with the University of Toronto .

The conservative opposition protested against Ross' support for a denominationally segregated Catholic school system. The Catholics, in turn, worked to ensure that they received the same universities and other educational institutions as the Protestants already had. In response to these demands, members of the Orange Order formed the Protestant Protective Association in the 1890s . This association sought unsuccessfully to curb the expansion of Catholics' rights and to exclude them from public life in the province. Ross also repeatedly denied requests to end classes in French . Nevertheless, he was re-elected in the elections of 1886, 1890, 1894 and 1898.

Prime Minister and Senator

After Oliver Mowat became Senator in 1896, Arthur Sturgis Hardy took over his office and confirmed Ross as Minister of Education. Hardy resigned on October 20, 1898 for health reasons. As the longest-serving member of the cabinet, Ross succeeded him as head of government and also took over the office of treasurer. The Ontario Liberal Party elected him as its new chairman. A year earlier, the province's borders had been moved north. Ross ordered a full survey of the vast area and encouraged immigration. To develop the north, the state-owned railway company Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railway was founded in 1902 , mining and wood processing companies received subsidies for new developments.

After almost three decades in power, the liberal government seemed worn out, and even Ross could not stop the gradual decline. In the February 1902 election, the Liberals received only two seats more than the Conservatives. This was not enough to maintain a stable government in the long term. Ross was a supporter of the abstinence movement and wanted to introduce prohibition in Ontario . However, a corresponding law was narrowly rejected in a referendum in December 1902. In March 1903 it was announced that votes had been bought in various constituencies in the election a year earlier. Ross was unaware of these events, but the scandal still damaged his reputation.

The January 25, 1905 election ended with a clear victory for the Conservatives. Ross passed government responsibility to James Whitney on February 8 and was then opposition leader in the Legislative Assembly. The Canadian Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier appointed him Senator in January 1907 . From January 1912 he led the opposition faction in the Senate. He remained in this office until his death.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Middlesex West, Ontario (1867-1966). In: History of Federal Ridings since 1867. Parliament of Canada, accessed July 25, 2012 .