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Don Cousens

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Subject: Frank Scarpitti, Ontario general election, 1990, David Tsubouchi, Greg Sorbara, Mayors of Markham, Ontario
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Don Cousens

Don Cousens
6th Mayor of Markham, Ontario
In office
Preceded by Frank Scarpitti
Succeeded by Frank Scarpitti
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded by New riding
Succeeded by David Tsubouchi
Constituency Markham
In office
Preceded by Alfred Stong
Succeeded by Greg Sorbara
Constituency York Centre
Personal details
Born (1938-07-20) July 20, 1938
Vankleek Hill, Ontario
Political party Progressive Conservative
Occupation Minister
Religion Presbyterian

W. Donald Cousens (born July 20, 1938) is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. He was a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1981 to 1994, and briefly served as a cabinet minister in the government of Frank Miller. From 1994 to 2006, Cousens was the Mayor of Markham, Ontario.


  • Background 1
  • Provincial politics 2
    • Cabinet positions 2.1
  • Municipal politics 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Cousens was educated at Queen's University and Knox College at the University of Toronto. An ordained Presbyterian Minister (he served 1966-68 in Penetanguishene, Ontario), an officer in the Canadian Forces, he then served as an executive with Honeywell Ltd. before entering political life, and later became a chair of the York Technology Association. He was a member of the York County Board of Education from 1972 to 1979, eventually serving as chair.

Provincial politics

Cousens was elected to the Ontario legislature in the 1981 provincial election, defeating Liberal Alf Stong in the riding of York Centre.[1][2] He served as a backbench supporter of Bill Davis's government for four years. Cousens initially supported Dennis Timbrell to succeed Davis in the Progressive Conservative Party's 1985 leadership convention, but crossed over to Frank Miller on the last ballot. He was named parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Citizenship and Culture on February 25, 1985, shortly after Miller was sworn in as Premier of Ontario.[3]

Cousens was re-elected in the 1985 provincial election,[1] but the Progressive Conservatives were reduced to an unstable minority government. He was appointed Minister of Correction Services on May 17,[4] but accomplished little of consequence before the Miller government was defeated in the house in June. Along with other members of the Tory caucus, he moved to the opposition benches as Liberal leader David Peterson became Premier.

The Progressive Conservatives were reduced to only 16 seats in the 1987 provincial election. Cousens defeated Liberal candidate Gail Newall by fewer than 1,000 votes in the new riding of Markham.[5]

In the 1990 provincial elections, Cousens scored a victory over Liberal Frank Scarpitti, winning by more than 10,000 votes.[6] The Progressive Conservatives as a whole managed only a modest recovery, however, increased their caucus size from sixteen to twenty. Cousens served as his party's critic for Environment, Finance, and Citizenship, Race Relations and Human Rights at various times in next parliament. He criticized Liberal Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) John Sola in 1991, after Sola made comments about Canadian Serbs that were generally regarded as racist. Sola was later expelled from the Liberal Party.[7]

Cousens once brought forward a private member's bill to outlaw smoking in public places.

A Red Tory by inclination, Cousens played little role in the party's drift to the right under Mike Harris. He resigned his seat in the legislature on September 30, 1994 to campaign for mayor of Markham.[8]

Cabinet positions

Provincial Government of Frank Miller
Cabinet Post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Nick Leluk Minister of Corrections
1985 (May–June)
Ken Keyes

Municipal politics

Markham is considered a diverse community with a thriving economy, and grew significantly under Cousens's watch. During that time, the town was debt free and gained many jobs in the software field. Unlike Mike Harris's provincial government, Cousens was a supporter of photo radar to discourage speeding in the Greater Toronto Area.

There is a Don Cousens Charitable Foundation within Markham. In 2003, he was award a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal.

On June 1, 2006 Cousens announced that he would not seek re-election as Mayor of Markham due to on-going health problems related to the need for a kidney transplant.[9]

Donald Cousens Parkway in Markham is named after him. There is also a public school in Markham, named after him.


  1. ^ a b "Ontario Votes 2003". CBC. 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2011. 
  2. ^ Canadian Press (1981-03-20). "Winds of change, sea of security". The Windsor Star (Windsor, Ontario). p. 22. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  3. ^ "The Ontario Cabinet". The Globe and Mail. February 9, 1985. p. 4. 
  4. ^ "The new Cabinet". The Globe and Mail. May 18, 1985. p. 11. 
  5. ^ "Results from individual ridings". The Windsor Star. September 11, 1987. p. F2. 
  6. ^ "Ontario election: Riding-by-riding voting results". The Globe and Mail. September 7, 1990. p. A12. 
  7. ^ Coyle, Jim (December 18, 1991). "Liberals shouldn't throw stones". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A5. 
  8. ^ "Ontario Tories lose top fundraiser". The Windsor Star. June 6, 1994. p. A10. 
  9. ^ Brennan, Richard (June 1, 2006). "Ailing mayor won't seek re-election; Cousens needs a kidney to survive Has held top job in Markham 12 years". Toronto Star. p. A19. 

External links

  • Ontario Legislative Assembly Parliamentarian History

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