- Tom Siddon
Drumheller, AlbertaSiddon pursued engineering, eventually earning a doctorate in aeroacoustics. He became a professor at the University of British Columbiaand founded a successful aero-acoustics firm, Siddon-Harford & Associates. Entering politics, he was first elected to parliament in a 1978election as a Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament(MP) to represent the British Columbiariding of Burnaby—Richmond—Delta.
Brian Mulroneybecame leader of the PC Party, Siddon was appointed the party's science critic in the shadow cabinet. After the Tories won the 1984 election, he was given the cabinet post of Secretary of State for Science and Technology. Siddon proved to be a hard working and competent MP, and was promoted to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans position on November 21, 1985, in the wake of the tunagatescandal that had forced the resignation of previous minister, John Fraser.
Siddon remained in the Fisheries post for five years, until 1990, overseeing one of the most important eras in Canadian fishing history. By the mid-1980s, it was evident that severe overfishing was soon going to have consequences. Siddon thus attempted to impose stiff quotas on the catch, despite the protests of fishers and the destruction of whole communities as fish processing plants closed throughout the Atlantic provinces. However, in retrospect, Siddon did not go far enough, and in
1991, a complete moratorium on codfishing had to be imposed as the Canadian fishing industry all but collapsed.
In 1990 Siddon was moved to the
Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Developmentposition. Again, Siddon found himself in the midst of controversy and crisis as only months after his swearing-in, the Oka Crisisbroke out. Siddon's greatest legacy and success was also achieved as Minister of Indian Affairs with the agreement in 1992to create the new territory of Nunavut.
When fellow British Columbian and ally
Kim Campbellbecame PC leader and prime minister in 1993, Siddon was promoted to the senior cabinet, becoming Minister of National Defence on June 25, 1993. In this role, he was responsible for ordering new EH-101 navy helicopters to replace the aging Sea King helicopters. The deal was finalized, but the opposition Liberal Party of Canadamade it an election issue and argued that the helicopters were too expensive. After winning the election, the Liberals canceled the contract and incurred cancellation fees of $500 million (CAD). The Sea Kings have since had twelve crashes and required 30 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight time.
Siddon entered the 1993 election expecting a tough battle. His support for native land claims and his earlier fishing quotas had made him one of the top targets of the new
Reform Party of Canada. Siddon ended up finishing third behind Raymond Chanof the Liberal Party and Nick Loenenof Reform.
Siddon returned to the private sector, but has remained active in Tory politics. He supported
Joe Clark's leadership bid in 1998, and later became an early advocate of union between the Tories and Canadian Alliance. In 2007, he was awarded a Doctorate of Laws from the University of British Columbia | Okanagan.
* [http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/people/key/bio.asp?Language=E&query=1666&s=M Federal Political Biography from the Library of Parliament]
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