Larry Grossman

From Academic Kids

Lawrence "Larry" Sheldon Grossman (born December 2, 1943 in Toronto, Ontario; died June 1997) was a politician in Ontario, Canada, and a noted baseball fan. He was the son of Allan Grossman, who had represented a downtown Toronto riding in the Ontario legislature for twenty years after defeating Ontario's last Communist MPP, J. B. Salsberg. The younger Grossman served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as a Progressive Conservative from 1975 to 1987, and was a cabinet minister in the governments of Bill Davis and Frank Miller. Grossman was leader of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives from 1985 to 1987.

When the elder Grossman retired, Larry Grossman contested and won the seat of St. Andrew—St. Patrick in the 1975 election, defeating NDP candidate Barbara Beardsley by 419 votes. He was re-elected in 1977, 1981 and 1985.

After serving as parliamentary assistant to the Attorney General from 1975 to 1977, Grossman was appointed to cabinet on September 21, 1977 as Minister of Tourism (on October 18, 1978, the ministry was restyled as Industry and Tourism). He was promoted to the high-profile position of Health Minister on February 13, 1982, and was named Provincial Treasurer and Minister of Economics on July 6, 1983. In cabinet, Grossman's progressive views earned him a reputation as a Red Tory.

When Davis announced his resignation as leader of the party and premier of the province, Grossman ran to succeed him. He was widely regarded as the most progressive candidate, and was endorsed by members of the party's Toronto-based "Big Blue Machine". However, delegates to the party's January 1985 leadership convention chose the more conservative Frank Miller as leader. Grossman placed third on the first ballot, ahead of Roy McMurtry, but behind Miller and Dennis Timbrell. With the support of the McMurtry campaign, Grossman moved six votes ahead of Timbrell on the second ballot.

Timbrell, who was a bitter rival of Grossman but also wanted to prevent a Miller victory, reluctantly endorsed Grossman after the results were confirmed by a recount. He did not bring enough delegates on the third ballot, however, and Grossman lost to Miller. He remained the Provincial Treasurer in Miller's government.

Miller ran a disastrous campaign in the 1985 election, and the party was reduced to a fragile minority government. Grossman was appointed as Minister of Education and Minister of Colleges and Universities after the election, but was unable to accomplish anything of significance before Miller's government was defeated in the house. Miller quickly resigned as leader, and Grossman was chosen as the new leader over Dennis Timbrell and Alan Pope at a second leadership convention on November 25, 1985. Grossman defeated Timbrell by only 19 votes on the second ballot, in a campaign that was marked by considerable acrimony.

Grossman became Leader of the Opposition to the minority government of Liberal Premier David Peterson.

The Peterson government was very popular, and Grossman's Tories, in opposition for the first time since the 1940s, had a difficult time adjusting to their new role. When the Liberals called an early election for the fall of 1987, Grossman's Tories tried to campaign on a right-wing platform of tax cuts and reduced government spending. Grossman's history as a Red Tory made his new-found conservatism less than credible. Further, the voters were generally pleased with Peterson's performance as premier, and were not interested in returning to the Tories. Peterson won a majority government in the 1987 election, and the Conservatives were reduced from 52 seats to 16, falling to third place behind the Ontario New Democratic Party. Grossman lost his own seat to Ron Kanter and promptly resigned. The party selected Andy Brandt as interim leader.

He assisted new party leader Mike Harris in the 1990 provincial election, and coached him to stay "on-message" with the issue of tax cuts.

Grossman's political hero was Benjamin Disraeli, whose portrait was displayed on his office wall. Shortly after winning the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives, he criticized American "neo-Conservatism" as "a shallow reconstitution of laissez-faire liberalism".

In 1997, Larry Grossman died at the age of 53 from brain cancer.

Preceded by:
Frank Miller

Ontario Conservative Leaders

Succeeded by:
Andy Brandt (interim)


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