Leonard Braithwaite

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Leonard Braithwaite
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded by Riding established
Succeeded by Ed Philip
Constituency Etobicoke
Personal details
Born (1923-10-23)October 23, 1923
Toronto, Ontario
Died March 28, 2012(2012-03-28) (aged 88)[1]
Toronto, Ontario[2]
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Anne Braithwaite [3]
Children Roger & David[2]
Residence Etobicoke
Occupation Lawyer
Military service
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Royal Canadian Air Force
Years of service 1943-46
Rank DAC
Unit 6th Bomber Group

Leonard Austin Braithwaite, CM OOnt (October 23, 1923 – March 28, 2012) was a lawyer and former politician in Ontario, Canada. He served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as a member of the Liberal Party from 1963 to 1975. He was the first Black Canadian to be elected to the Ontario Legislature.[3]


Braithwaite was born in Toronto, Ontario to West Indian parents, and served overseas with the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. He received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto in 1950. He then received a Masters of Business Administration degree from the Harvard Business School in 1952, and graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1958.[3] He practiced as a barrister and solicitor, and was named a Queen's Counsel in 1971.

Political career

His political career began in 1960, when he was elected to Ward Four of the Etobicoke township board of education.[3] Braithwaite was president of Etobicoke ratepayer's association at the time, and was elected because of demand for a high school north of Eglinton. Two years later, he was elected as an alderman on the Etobicoke council.[3]

Braithwaite ran for the Liberals in the 1963 provincial election, and defeated Progressive Conservative candidate Geoffrey Grossmith to win the newly created constituency of Etobicoke by 443 votes.[3] 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 by his campaign team. The Returning Officer claimed it was an accident, due to pre-count tests of the mechanical adding machines that were not cleared before the official count began.[4]

Braithwaite helped to revoke a section of the Ontario Separate Schools act that had allowed for racial segregation in public schools, when he asked the Legislature to "get rid of the old race law" during his maiden speech at Queen's Park on February 4, 1964.[5] He also called for the admission of female legislative pages in 1966.[6] He was re-elected in 1967 and 1971, and served as the Liberal Party Critic for Labour and Welfare.

He was defeated in the 1975 election, losing to New Democratic Party candidate Ed Philip by 1,256 votes in the redistributed electoral district.[7] He was elected a city controller on the Etobicoke City Council in 1982.[8] He attempted a return to the provincial legislature during the 1985 election;[8] he was a last minute candidate, as the York West Liberal constituency association could not find anyone to run against the Progressive Conservative incumbent Nick Leluk, who was also the Minister of Correctional Services at the time. Braithwaite lost by 821 votes,[9] significantly closer than his constituency association originally expected, as they thought Leluk would win by a massive rout.[10] Braithwaite did not run again, and neither did Leluk in the next election, two-years later.

Post-political career and awards

Braithwaite became a bencher of the Governing Council of The Law Society of Upper Canada in 1999. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 1997, and invested into the order on February 4, 1998.[11] He was appointed to the Order of Ontario in 2004.

In 2012, the City of Toronto re-named a park in the Etobicoke riding he represented to Len Braithwaite Park in his honour.



  1. Canadian Press (2012-04-05). "First black member of Ont. legislature dead at 88". Toronto: CTV News. Retrieved 2012-04-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ferguson, Rob (2012-04-05). "Ontario's first black MPP, Leonard Braithwaite, dies at 88". The Toronto Star. Toronto. Archived from the original on 2012-04-06. Retrieved 2012-04-06.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Wins Etobicoke: Braithwaite Ontario's First Negro MPP". The Toronto Daily Star. Toronto. 1963-09-26. p. 19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Lartey 2009, p. 25—27.
  5. "Get rid of old race law---Negro MPP". The Toronto Daily Star. Toronto. 1964-02-05. p. 35.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Let's have girl pages in House says MPP". The Toronto Daily Star. Toronto. 1966-03-23. p. 14.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "NDP Scores in Etobicoke–Liberal dumped after 12 years". The Toronto Star. Toronto. 1975-09-19. p. A16.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. 8.0 8.1 Burbidge, Kate (1985-04-04). "Braithwaite blasts Miller on oil pact". The Toronto Star. Toronto. Check date values in: |year=, |year= / |date= mismatch (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Results of Vote in Ontario Election: Metro Toronto". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. 1985-05-03. p. 13.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Lartey 2009, p. 28.
  11. "Leonard Austin Braithwaite, C.M., Q.C., M.B.A." It's an Honour: Order of Canada. Ottawa: The Queen's Printer for Canada. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-12-28. Retrieved 2011-12-28.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


External links