- Leonard Braithwaite
Leonard Austin Braithwaite (born
October 23, 1923) is a lawyer and politician in Ontario, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontariofrom 1963 to 1975, as a member of the Liberal Party. He was the first Black Canadianto be elected to a provincial legislature in Canada.
Braithwaite was born in
Toronto, Ontarioto West Indianparents, and served overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Forcein World War II. He received a Bachelor of Commercedegree from the University of Torontoin 1950. He then received a Masters of Business Administrationdegree from the Harvard Business Schoolin 1952, and graduated from Osgoode Hall Law Schoolin 1958. He practiced as a barrister and solicitor, and was named a Queen's Counselin 1971.
His political career began in 1960, when he was elected to Ward Four the Etobicoke township board of education. Braithwaite was Ratepayer's President for Etobicoke at the time, and was elected because of demand for a high school north of Eglinton. Two years later, he was elected as an
aldermanon the Etobicoke council.
Braithwaite ran for the Liberals in the 1963 provincial election, and defeated Progressive Conservative candidate
Geoffrey Grossmithto win the constituency of Etobicoke by 443 votes. The original declared result showed Grossmith winning by over 500 votes, and Braithwaite was only declared elected after a serious error in the vote totals was discovered. The Returning Officer claimed it was an accident, though Braithwaite later argued that it was an attempt to cheat him from office. [http://www.blackhistorysociety.ca/Braitwaite-liberalsPolitics.htm]
He was re-elected in 1967 and 1971, and served as the Liberal Party Critic for Labour and Welfare. Braithwaite also helped to revoke an Ontario law that had allowed for racial segregation in public schools, an act that Braithwaite later described as his greatest accomplishment. He also called for the admission of female legislative pages in 1966.
He was defeated in the 1975 election, losing to New Democratic Party candidate
Ed Philipby 1,256 votes. He returned to political life in 1982, when he was elected to the Etobicoke Board of Control. At the time, Etobicoke Controllers automatically served on the Metro Toronto council as well. Braithwaite served in both positions until 1988, when he was defeated.
Braithwaite became a bencher of the Governing Council of The Law Society of Upper Canada in 1999. He was made a Member of the
Order of Canadain 1997, and was appointed to the Order of Ontarioin 2005.
* [http://www.blackhistorysociety.ca/Braithwaite_Public.htm The Untold Story of Leonard Braithwaite]
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