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Frank Klees

From Academic Kids

Frank Klees (born March 6, 1951 in Stuttgart, West Germany) is a politician in Ontario, Canada. He is a Progressive Conservative Member of Provincial Parliament for the riding of Oak Ridges, north of Toronto.

His parents were Danube-Swabian, German pioneers whose ancestors settled in parts of eastern Europe that would later be known as Hungary and Yugoslavia. At the age of 5, Klees came with his family to Canada by boat and settled in Leamington, Ontario.

Klees first ran for the Ontario legislature in the 1975 provincial election, losing to Remo Mancini in the southwestern riding of Essex South. He lost to Mancini a second time in the 1977 election, and did not run as a candidate again until 1995.

He worked as a businessman the intervening years, beginning in the financial services sector with the Canada Life Assurance Co. He then became an entrepreneur, and started a sports agency which represented professional athletes. Klees also co-founded the Municipal Gas Corporation in 1990, and served as its Executive Vice-President until 1997. When he sold the business, it had grown to a significant enterprise with 55,000 customers.

From 1992 to 1994, he was third vice-president and policy chair of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Klees was first elected to the legislature in the election of 1995, defeating former Liberal leadership candidate Charles Beer. He was easily re-elected in the 1999 provincial election, and on June 17, 1999 joined the cabinet of Premier Mike Harris as chief party whip and Minister without Portfolio.

In 2000, Klees was preparing to run as a candidate for the leadership of the new Canadian Alliance, but pulled out because he had been approached by a donor who offered to bankroll the Klees campaign in exchange for Klees crossing over to a preferred candidate on the second ballot. (It may be noted that Ontario Progressive Conservative organizer Tom Long ran for the leadership of the Canadian Alliance after Klees withdrew, and gave his support to Preston Manning on the second ballot despite the fact that Manning had almost no chance of winning.)

Klees stepped down from his ministerial position on July 30, 2001 for what he described as personal reasons. After returning to the backbenches for a year, he was reappointed to cabinet on October 3, 2002 as Minister of Tourism under Harris' successor, Ernie Eves. On February 25, 2003, he became Minister of Transportation, and served in that position until the defeat of the Eves government in the October 2003 election. Klees revealed himself as being on the right-wing of his party during this period, supporting right-to-work legislation and other initiatives to reduce government oversight of the economy.

Klees was re-elected in 2003 (narrowly defeating Liberal Helena Jaczek) and was a candidate in the 2004 Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership election which took place on September 18, 2004. He was endorsed by Tory MPPs Jerry Ouellette, Ted Chudleigh and Bill Murdoch, and groups such as the Conservative Youth Coalition. The other candidates in the race were Ajax MPP Jim Flaherty and former Rogers Communications CEO John Tory.

Klees made healthcare his biggest priority in the campaign. He was the only candidate to openly endorse a semi-privatized healthcare system. Other key issues of his campaign were school choice, physical education in the school system, OHIP statements, and foreign-born doctors applying for employment.

He was eliminated from the contest after placing third on the first ballot; Tory subsequently won on the second ballot. Klees increased his profile during the campaign, and is currently the Progressive Conservative education critic in the Legislature.

Klees lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

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