Bill Davis

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The Hon. William Davis
Bill Davis
Term of Office:March 2, 1971 - February 1985
Predecessor:John Robarts
Successor:Frank Miller
Date of Birth:July 30, 1929
Place of Birth:Brampton, Ontario
Political Party:PC

For the Actor, Professor, and Waterskiier, see William B. Davis

William (Bill) Grenville Davis CC,O.Ont. (born July 30, 1929 in Brampton, Ontario) was the Progressive Conservative Premier of Ontario, Canada, from 1971 to 1985.

He was politically active from an early age. He graduated from the University of Toronto in 1951 and attended Osgoode Hall Law School. He was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in 1959 provincial election. In 1962, he became Ontario education minister under Premier John Robarts. He presided over the reshaping of the Ontario education system, creating new universities including Trent University and Brock University. He created the TV Ontario educational television network in 1970.

Davis became the province's Progressive Conservative Party leader and premier after the resignation of Robarts in 1971. davis led the party to a majority government in the 1971 provincial election

The Tories lost support during the 1975 provincial election, but were re-elected with a minority government. The Tories were able to stay in power due to the competition between the Ontario New Democratic Party and the Ontario Liberal Party, because of the inability of either opposition party to become the clear alternative to the Tories. Davis called a snap election in 1977, but was again returned with only a minority. The Tories were able to avoid defeat in the Legislature during both minority governments by moving to the left and seeking support from either the NDP or the Liberals (or both) for its legislation. The Davis government was a period of expansion for the province's public health and education systems. Davis was particularly interested in developing a network of community colleges that he began as education minister in the Robarts government.

Unlike most provincial premiers in Canada, he supported Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's plans to patriate the Canadian Constitution from Britain and rewrite it significantly. Davis' role in the constitutional negotiations of 1981 were pivotal in achieving a compromise that resulted in the passage of the 1982 Constitution.

Davis considered moving to federal politics by running to lead the federal Progressive Conservatives in 1983, but he decided not to do so when he realised that he wouldn't receive support from western Canada. He retired a few months before the election of 1985, and was succeeded by Frank Miller. Miller was elected leader at a February 1985 leadership convention. The Progressive Conservatives lost the election, ending its 42 year period of rule over the province.

In 1985, Davis was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. In retirement, Davis has served on numerous corporate boards. In 2003, he played a role in the successful negotiations to merge the federal Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance and create the new Conservative Party of Canada.

He is known, primarily by Bramptonians, as "Brampton Billy".

Preceded by:
John Robarts

Premier of Ontario

Succeeded by:
Frank Miller

Preceded by:
John Robarts

Ontario Conservative Leaders

Succeeded by:
Frank Miller


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