Mowat's greatest contribution was made as premier. A skilful electoral politician, he built a pragmatic and moderate Liberal Party, representative of all Ontario - Protestant and Catholic, rural and urban. Under Mowat's leadership, Ontario came of age economically, socially and politically. Agriculture was modernized, the importance of industry recognized, educational and scientific areas cultivated, urban problems addressed and trade unions accepted as part of the society. Substantial government regulation became part of Ontario life and numerous social programs were introduced. Mowat and his government also contributed to the definition of Canadian FEDERALISM. He was Canada's first important provincial-rights advocate and, through a series of successful legal and political battles with John A. Macdonald and the federal Conservative government, altered Macdonald's concept of Canada as a highly centralized state with the provinces weak and dependent. Moreover, Mowat and his colleagues established Ontario as the dominant province within Confederation. Ontario's resources were increased by expansion into northern territories and its boundaries substantially enlarged after a protracted dispute with the federal government. Good management of the key economic sectors of agriculture, industry and resources made it the richest province, and it is fair to describe Mowat's tenure of office as the era of the emergence of modern Ontario.
Author DONALD SWAINSON
Links to Other Sites
Sir Oliver Mowat
A biography of Sir Oliver Mowat with photographs and other archival resources. A “Canadian Confederation” website from Library and Archives Canada.