Peterson, David Robert
David Robert Peterson, lawyer, businessman, premier of Ontario (b at Toronto 28 Dec 1943). He was raised in London, Ontario, received a BA (1964) from the University of Western Ontario and an LLB (1967) from the University of Toronto. He joined the family electronics firm in 1969, won the London Centre riding in 1975 and was elected Liberal leader in 1982. In the 2 May 1985 election, his Liberals upset the Progressive Conservatives under Premier Frank MILLER
, leading to the end of 42 years of PC rule in Ontario. After his party finished first in the popular vote, though second to the PCs in number of seats, he signed an accord with the New Democratic Party which established a Liberal minority government. In return for a guarantee of 2 years, the accord pledged the new government to implement legislation and procedural reforms endorsed by both parties.
After assuming office on 26 June 1985, Peterson moved quickly on issues such as environmental protection, health care and francophone rights. On the national scene, he endorsed the MEECH LAKE ACCORD (see MEECH LAKE ACCORD: DOCUMENT) and emerged as a leader in ensuring a provincial role in the FREE TRADE discussions. He subsequently opposed the agreement reached in October 1987. Peterson was returned to office with an overwhelming majority in the election of 10 September 1987, but in a snap election called in September 1990, which many voters considered unnecessary and opportunistic, his government fell to the NDP in a surprising upset. Peterson lost his own seat and quickly resigned as Liberal leader. In 1991 he became a partner in a Toronto law firm.
Peterson's Liberal government ended years of Conservative rule in Ontario (photo by Jim Merrithew).