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Gerry Phillips (born September 11, 1940 in London, Ontario) is a politician in Ontario, Canada. He is currently a member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, and a Cabinet Minister in the government of Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Phillips was educated at the University of Western Ontario's School of Business, and worked as a managing consultant before entering public life. He worked in the marketing department of Procter & Gamble, and joined the Canadian Marketing Associates organization in 1970 (becoming its President in 1977). Phillips founded the Sales Development Group in 1979 and the Retail Resource Group in 1982, and also served on the Board of Governors of the Scarborough General Hospital during this period.
Phillips began his political career as a school trustee, serving for a total of eleven years on the Scarborough Board of Education and the Metropolitan Toronto School Board (and eventually becoming chair of both organizations). He also ran for the Ontario legislature as a Liberal in the provincial election of 1975, but lost to Progressive Conservative Tom Wells in Scarborough North by about 3,000 votes.
Phillips was more successful in his second bid for the Ontario legislature. He was easily elected in Scarborough—Agincourt in the provincial election of 1987, defeating his nearest opponent, David Kho of the NDP by over 12,000 votes. The Liberals won a landslide majority in this election under David Peterson, and on September 29, 1987 Phillips was appointed Minister of Citizenship , with responsibility for Race Relations , Multiculturalism and the Ontario Human Rights Commission . In August 1989, he was transferred to the Ministry of Labour .
The Liberals were upset by the NDP in the provincial election of 1990, though Phillips was re-elected without difficulty in his own riding (Tory Keith MacNab finished second). In opposition, he held Official Critic portfolios in Health, Finance and Native Affairs. In 1992, he supported Lyn McLeod's successful campaign to become party leader.
The 1995 provincial election was won by the Progressive Conservatives, and Phillips only narrowly won re-election in Agincourt, defeating Keith MacNab by about 2,000 votes. Many suspected that Phillips would run for the party's leadership when Lyn McLeod resigned in 1996, but he declined and supported Gerard Kennedy, who lost to Dalton McGuinty on the final ballot. In 1998, Phillips was appointed as the party's Deputy Leader; in the 1999 provincial election, he was featured prominently beside McGuinty in the province's television ads.
Phillips's own re-election in 1999 was not guaranteed. Despite receiving an endorsement from the right-wing/populist Toronto Sun tabloid (which generally supports Tory candidates), he came within 3,000 votes of being defeated by incumbent Tory MPP Jim Brown. (The Mike Harris government had previously reduced the number of ridings from 130 to 103, forcing several MPPs to face one another for re-election.) The Progressive Conservatives again won the election, and Phillips continued to establish himself as a leading figure on the opposition benches. In his capacity as Native Affairs Critic, Phillips made several calls for a public inquiry into the 1995 shooting death of protester Dudley George by members of the Ontario Provincial Police.
The Liberal Party won a landslide majority in the 2003 election, and Phillips was re-elected with 61% support in his riding. Under different circumstances, he would have been the logical choice for Finance Minister in the new government. This position, however, was claimed by Greg Sorbara, who had played a prominent organizational role in the party's campaign, and Phillips was instead appointed as Chair of the Management Board .
He has recently called for Canada to adopt a common securities regulator, rather than relying on separate regulation for each province.
Although Phillips is generally regarded as a fiscal conservative and an ally of Ontario's business community, he is also seen as a prominent supporter of cultural diversity (his riding in Scarborough has a large immigrant population). Ideology aside, he is also respected by most other parliamentarians as a diligent worker and intelligent contributor to the legislative process.
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