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John Charles McWater Beer (born November 24, 1941 in Toronto, Ontario) is a former Canadian politician. He was a Liberal member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1987 to 1995, and served as a cabinet minister in the government of David Peterson.
Beer was educated at the University of Toronto, York University, Laval University and the National Defence College . He worked as an educator after graduating, and was the Assistant Headmaster of Pickering College from 1981 to 1986. In 1987, he served as director of the Ontario Conference of Independent Schools.
He first ran for the Ontario legislature in the 1977 provincial election, but finished a distant third against Progressive Conservative Frank Drea in Scarborough Centre. He campaigned for the legislature again in the 1981 election, but lost to Progressive Conservative Margaret Birch in Scarborough East.
Beer was elected to the Ontario legislature on his third attempt, in the 1987 Ontario election that saw the Liberal Party win a landslide majority. He defeated Progressive Conservative candidate John Cole by 5,185 votes in York North, located just north of Toronto. Beer was appointed a parliamentary assistant in 1988, and was promoted to Minister of Community and Social Services and Minister responsible for Francophone Affairs on August 2, 1989. In the former capacity, he started the Advisory Group on New Social Assistance Legislation in 1990.
The Liberals were unexpectedly defeated in the 1990 provincial election, and Beer was re-elected over Progressive Conservative candidate George Timpson by only 158 votes in the new riding of York—Mackenzie (NDP candidate Keith Munro was a close third). Peterson resigned as Liberal leader immediately after the election, and Beer ran to succeed him in the Ontario Liberal Leadership Convention that was called in 1992. He finished fourth, withdrawing from the contest after the third ballot. There are reports that Beer was forced to mortgage his house to pay for his leadership campaign.
Beer is on the left-wing of the Liberal Party, and played a significant role in developing the party's "Red Book" for the 1995 provincial campaign. The Progressive Conservatives won a majority government in this election, however, and Beer was among the Liberal incumbents defeated: he lost to Frank Klees, later a cabinet mininster in the government of Mike Harris, by almost 12,000 votes.
In the late 1990s, Beer served as the president and CEO of the Canadian Executive Service Organization , a not-for-profit agency intended to transfer Canadian technical and managerial expertise to developing countries. Today, he works for the current Liberal government of Dalton McGuinty as executive assistant to George Smitherman, the Minister of Health and Long Term Care. He is also honourary chair of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
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