Carolyn Bennett

Carolyn Ann Bennett PC MP (born December 20, 1950) is a Canadian physician and politician. She has served as the Member of Parliament for the riding of Toronto—St. Paul's, a constituency located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, since 1997. She is a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and was formerly a candidate for its leadership. During the Paul Martin government, Bennett, who was a family physician for twenty years[1] before entering politics, was Minister of State for Public Health and established the Public Health Agency of Canada. She was appointed Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 29th Canadian Ministry, and retained the position after it was renamed Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.

Carolyn Bennett

Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
Assumed office
November 4, 2015
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Preceded byBernard Valcourt
Minister of State (Public Health)
In office
December 12, 2003  February 5, 2006
Prime MinisterPaul Martin
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Toronto—St. Paul's
St. Paul's (1997–2015)
Assumed office
June 2, 1997
Preceded byBarry Campbell
Personal details
Carolyn Ann Bennett

(1950-12-20) December 20, 1950
Toronto, Ontario
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Peter O'Brian
ResidenceToronto, Ontario
Alma materHavergal College, University of Toronto


Bennett was born in Toronto on December 20, 1950, and attended Havergal College.[2][3] She obtained a degree in medicine from the University of Toronto in 1974.[4] Bennett received her certification in family medicine in 1976. Bennett worked as a family physician at Wellesley Hospital and Women's College Hospital in Toronto from 1977 to 1997 and was a founding partner in Bedford Medical Associates. She was also president of the medical staff association of Women's College Hospital and has a clinical adjunct appointment as an assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto.[4] Bennett served on the boards of Havergal College, Women's College Hospital, the Ontario Medical Association, and the Medico-Legal Society of Toronto.

In 1986, Bennett received the Royal Life Saving Society Service Cross, a Commonwealth award recognizing her more than twenty years of distinguished service. In 1990, she was named as one of Simpson's "Women Who Make a Difference".

Bennett is also author of Kill or Cure? How Canadians Can Remake their Health Care System, published in October 2000. In 2004, she was awarded an honorary fellowship from the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada for her contributions to medicine, especially women's health.[5]

She is married to Canadian film producer Peter O'Brian. They have two sons.

Political career

Bennett ran for public office in the 1995 Ontario provincial election as a candidate of the Ontario Liberal Party.[6] Running in the riding of St. Andrew—St. Patrick, she lost to Progressive Conservative candidate Isabel Bassett by about 3,500 votes.[7]

Bennett was more successful in the 1997 federal election, defeating her closest opponent in St. Paul's by almost 15,000 votes.[8] She was re-elected by increased margins in the elections of 2000 and 2004.[9][10]

On December 12, 2003, after Paul Martin became Prime Minister, he appointed Bennett as his Minister of State for Public Health. In her two years as Minister, she set up the Public Health Agency of Canada, appointed the first Chief Public Health Officer for Canada, and established the Public Health Network.[11]

She was chair of the Canada-Israel Friendship Group from 1999 to 2003 and is a member of Liberal Parliamentarians for Israel.

In the 2006 election, Bennett defeated two main challengers who were both touted as star candidates, Peter Kent of the Conservatives and Paul Summerville of the New Democratic Party.[12][13] Bennett was re-elected, but lost her cabinet position as the Liberals were defeated.[14] She became only the third opposition MP in the history of St. Paul's. The riding had once been a noted bellwether, but swung heavily to the Liberals along with most other central Toronto ridings.

She announced on April 24, 2006 that she would pursue the leadership of the party.[15] On September 15, 2006, she withdrew from the leadership race and threw her support behind former Ontario Premier Bob Rae.[16]

In the 39th Parliament, Bennett was the Official Opposition critic for social development, social economy, seniors, persons with disabilities, and public health.[2]

She was re-elected in 2008.[17] In the 40th Parliament, Bennett was the Official Opposition critic for health.[2]

She was re-elected in 2011.[18] In the 41st Parliament, Bennett was the Liberal critic for Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Aboriginal Affairs, Northern Development, and the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.[2]

On November 4, 2015, Bennett was appointed the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the present Cabinet, headed by Justin Trudeau.[19] She is the fifth most senior member of Justin Trudeau's cabinet.[20]


  • Royal Life Saving Society Service Cross (1986)
  • EVE Award for Contributing to the Advancement of Women in Politics (2002)
  • CAMIMH Mental Health Champion Award (2003) [21]
  • National Award of Excellence for Outstanding Leadership and Dedication to Injury Prevention and Safety
  • W. Victor Johnston Award for Lifetime Contribution to Family Medicine in Canada and Internationally (2009)

Electoral record

Toronto—St. Paul's, 2015–present

2015 Canadian federal election: Toronto—St. Paul's
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalCarolyn Bennett31,48155.26+15.34
ConservativeMarnie MacDougall15,37626.99-5.43
New DemocraticNoah Richler8,38614.72-7.91
GreenKevin Farmer1,7293.03-1.45
Total valid votes/Expense limit 56,972100.0   $208,833.75
Total rejected ballots 252
Turnout 57,224
Eligible voters 77,433
Source: Elections Canada[22][23][24]

St. Paul's, 1997-2015

2011 Canadian federal election: St. Paul's
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalCarolyn Bennett22,40940.6-9.9
ConservativeMaureen Harquail17,86432.4+5.8
New DemocraticWilliam Molls12,12422.0+8.7
GreenJim McGarva2,4954.5-4.6
LibertarianJohn Kittredge3030.5-0.1
Total valid votes/Expense limit 55,195 100.0
Total rejected ballots 276 0.5
Turnout 55,471 68.2
Eligible voters 81,288
2008 Canadian federal election: St. Paul's
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalCarolyn Bennett26,32650.5+0.2$69,331
ConservativeHeather Jewell13,80026.6+0.8$53,617
New DemocraticAnita Agrawal6,88013.3-5.9$13,606
GreenJustin Erdman4,7139.1+4.3$3,526
LibertarianJohn Kittredge3130.6$182
Total valid votes/Expense limit 52,032100.0$86,488
2006 Canadian federal election: St. Paul's
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalCarolyn Bennett29,29550.3-8.1
ConservativePeter Kent15,02125.8+5.4
New DemocraticPaul Summerville11,18919.2+3.5
GreenKevin Farmer2,7854.8-0.7
Total valid votes 58,290100.0
2004 Canadian federal election: St. Paul's
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalCarolyn Bennett32,17158.4+4.1
ConservativeBarry Cline11,22620.4-13.1*
New DemocraticNorman Tobias8,66715.7+6.3
GreenPeter Elgie3,0315.5+3.9
Total valid votes 55,095 100.0

*Comparison to total of Progressive Conservative and Canadian Alliance vote in 2000.

2000 Canadian federal election: St. Paul's
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalCarolyn Bennett25,11054.30.0
Progressive ConservativeBarry Cline10,03521.7-2.0
AllianceTheo Caldwell5,41511.7+4.4
New DemocraticGuy Hunter4,3729.7-2.7
GreenDon Roebuck7591.6+0.4
MarijuanaAndrew Potter2210.5
Canadian ActionMark Till1250.3-0.1
Marxist–LeninistBarbara Seed880.2-0.1
Natural LawRon Parker830.2-0.3
Total valid votes 46,208 100.0

Note: Canadian Alliance vote is compared to the Reform vote in 1997 election.

1997 Canadian federal election: St. Paul's
Party Candidate Votes%±%
LiberalCarolyn Bennett26,38954.3-0.1
Progressive ConservativePeter Atkins11,52023.7-0.7
New DemocraticMichael Halewood6,02812.4+7.3
ReformFrancis Floszmann3,5647.3-3.8
GreenDon Roebuck5971.2+0.3
Natural LawNeil Dickie2210.5-0.2
Canadian ActionDaniel Widdicombe1820.4
Marxist–LeninistFernand Deschamps1350.3+0.1
Total valid votes 48,636 100.0


  1. "Women Physicians Change the World – Political Activism – Dr. Jill Stein". Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  2. "BENNETT, The Hon. Dr. Carolyn, P.C., M.D." Library of Parliament. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  3. "NOTABLE OLD GIRLS". Havergal College. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  4. "Meet the new cabinet ministers from the University of Toronto". University of Toronto. 4 November 2015. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  5. "Media Advisory: The Honourable Dr. Carolyn Bennett Receives Honorary Fellowship from the SOGC". Canadian Corporate News. June 25, 2004.
  6. "Carolyn Bennett takes your questions on the Liberal leadership race". The Globe and Mail. September 13, 2006.
  7. "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 8, 1995. Archived from the original on June 7, 2014.
  8. "Final Results Riding by Riding". Calgary Herald. June 4, 1997. p. A5.
  9. "Election Results". Star — Phoenix. Saskatoon, SK. November 28, 2000. p. A8.
  10. "Election results...riding by riding". The Globe and Mail. June 29, 2004. p. A14.
  11. "Biography | Carolyn Bennett | Your member of parliament for Toronto-St. Paul's". Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  12. Bill Doskoch (September 7, 2008). "Toronto's political landscape unlikely to shift". CTV.
  13. "NDP won't raise taxes, pledges Jack Layton". CTV. December 5, 2005.
  14. Justin Skinner (September 4, 2008). "Federal election call expected soon". Inside Toronto. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  15. "Liberal leadership field grows with Bennett's entry". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. April 24, 2006. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
  16. Susan Delacourt (September 16, 2006). "Bennett quits contest, backs Rae". Toronto Star.
  17. "Greater Toronto Area Results". The Toronto Star. October 15, 2008. p. U2.
  18. "Riding results from across Canada". Edmonton Journal. May 3, 2011. p. A6.
  19. "Full list of Justin Trudeau's cabinet 31-member cabinet includes 15 women, attempt at regional balance". CBC News. 2015-11-04.
  20. McGregor, Janyce (7 November 2015). "Justin Trudeau's cabinet: 6 changes found in the fine print". CBC News. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  21. "CPA Bulletin: December 2003 - NEWS - CAMIMH Honours Canadians for Raising Awareness About Mental Illness". 2016-08-07. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  22. Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Toronto—St. Paul's, 30 September 2015
  23. Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates Archived August 15, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
29th Ministry – Cabinet of Justin Trudeau
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Bernard Valcourt Minister of Crown Indigenous Relations
November 4, 2015 – present
27th Ministry – Cabinet of Paul Martin
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
  Minister of State (Public Health)
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