Maria Minna

Maria Minna, PC, (born March 14, 1948) is a former Canadian politician who represented the Toronto riding of Beaches—East York in the House of Commons as a member of the Liberal Party from 1993 to 2011.

Maria Minna

Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Beaches—East York
In office
Preceded byriding renamed from
Succeeded byMatthew Kellway
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Beaches—Woodbine
In office
Preceded byNeil Young
Succeeded byriding renamed to
Beaches—East York
Personal details
Born (1948-03-14) March 14, 1948
Pofi, Italy
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Robert MacBain
Professionbusinesswoman, public policy consultant


Minna was born in Pofi, Italy, and moved to Canada with her family at the age of 9. They settled in Toronto, Ontario in the Christie Pits area. Her father worked in the construction industry and her mother laboured as a factory worker. She is the third eldest of five children, having three sisters and a brother. She attended a vocational high school earning a diploma and started working as a secretary. At age 24 she attended the University of Toronto where she graduated with an Honours B.A. in Sociology. At age 34, she married Robert MacBain, a public relations consultant.[1]

From 1981 to 1992, she served as the volunteer president of COSTI-IIAS, Canada's largest immigrant services organization. She also served as president of the National Congress of Italian-Canadians.[2]

Due in part to her high profile, Minna was appointed to serve on two task forces with the Worker's Compensation Board. In 1986 she co-chaired the Task Force on Vocational Rehabilitation and in 1991 she chaired a Task Force on Service Delivery. Both led to significant improvements in the operation of the WCB.[3]


Minna sought the Liberal nomination for the riding of York West in 1984. She lost to Sergio Marchi.[1] She also tried to get nominated in the riding of York North in 1988 but lost to Maurizio Bevilacqua.[4] The York North nomination fight turned ugly amidst claims of delegate stacking and improper procedures.[5] Minna later appealed the nomination but withdrew the complaint claiming that the appeal process was tainted.[6]

In government

She was elected to parliament in the 1993 election in which the Liberal party won all but one of the 99 Ontario seats. Although the former Liberal candidate ran against her as an independent, she defeated New Democratic Party (NDP) incumbent Neil Young by a margin of two-to-one, thus becoming the first Liberal in history to represent the Beaches area south of the Danforth. As of 2008 she has been re-elected five times easily defeating high-profile candidates such as Peter Tabuns (2004 election, by 7,738 votes)[7] and Marilyn Churley (2006 election, by 2,778 votes;[3] 2008 election, by 4035 votes[8]).

On August 3, 1999, Minna was appointed to Cabinet as the Minister of International Cooperation. She held the post until the beginning of 2002. On December 11, 2001, Minna was accused of improperly voting in a municipal by-election. She voted for friend and colleague Gail Nyberg who was running to replace Michael Prue who had been elected to the Provincial government in a September by-election. On advice from municipal officials, Minna cast a ballot even though she didn't live within the ward which occupies the northern half of her riding. According to municipal election rules, anyone who owns or rents a business is allowed to vote. Minna's constituency office was in the ward so that allowed her to cast a ballot.[9] Soon after, Minna was dropped from Cabinet during a ministerial shuffle.

Minna was bitter about the demotion and complained to the Liberal Party's women's caucus that she was told to keep quiet about the issue. She claimed she was "hung out to dry by ambitious individuals...."[10] Later she conceded that the PMO's office had told her that it would be better to wait for the results of the ethics investigation. Initially the ethics counsellor terminated the allegations probe since she was dropped from Cabinet but Minna insisted that it be reopened. She said, "It's my personal credibility that's at stake. It's not the cabinet post." Fellow Liberal MP Sheila Copps who sympathized with Minna's situation was quoted as saying, "The one thing you have in politics is your reputation."[11] The probe was reopened and she was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.[12]

During her time in government, Minna has held several leadership roles that have focused on immigration and international relations. In 1994 she was appointed Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development and served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration from 1996 to 1998. In October 2004, Minna was appointed special adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on issues of women, peace and security. In March 2005, Minna led a five-person Parliamentary delegation to assist with the peace process in Sri Lanka.[2]

In opposition

From 2006 to January 2009 Minna was the Official Opposition Critic for the Status of Women.[13] Minna was the Official Opposition Critic for Labour.[14] On May 2, 2011 during the 41st federal election Minna lost her seat to NDP candidate Matthew Kellway.[15]


Minna has received several awards recognizing her involvement with the immigrant community. These include the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce President's Award (2001), the Permio Italia nel Mondo award for individuals of Italian origin (2001), Results Canada's Outstanding Leadership Award (2002), and the Canada-Sri Lanka Business Council's President's Award (2006).

Electoral record

2000 Canadian federal election: Beaches—East York
Party Candidate Votes%±%Expenditures
LiberalMaria Minna24,01952.7+4.8$61,974
New DemocraticMel Watkins8,93620.9−2.6$54,232
Progressive ConservativeWayne Clutterbuck5,76713.5+1.2$13,989
AllianceAbu Alam3,8389.0−5.3$9,047
MarijuanaBruce Watson6831.6none listed
GreenJames Mendel5991.4$102
Canadian ActionRandall Whitcomb1280.3none listed
Natural LawDonalda Fredeen880.2none listed
CommunistAnn Nicholson820.2$202
Marxist–LeninistSteve Rutchinski530.1$8
Total valid votes 42,687 99.6
Total rejected ballots 179 0.4
Turnout 42,866 56.9
Electors on the lists 75,284 100.0
Note: Canadian Alliance vote is compared to the Reform vote in 1997 election.
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.


  1. Steed, Judy (March 8, 1986). "Minna's Mosaic". The Globe and Mail. p. A10.
  2. "Maria Minna. Liberal Party of Canada". Archived from the original on June 11, 2008.
  3. "Canada Votes, 2006: 112 Beaches-East York". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
  4. Steed, Judy (April 2, 1988). "Turning Point or Vanishing Point?". The Globe and Mail. p. D5.
  5. Cameron, Stevie (July 14, 1988). "Liberals' ugly, chaotic nomination fights make farce of democracy". The Globe and Mail. p. A2.
  6. Webb-Proctor, Gary (July 30, 1988). "Nomination appeal bid withdrawn". The Globe and Mail. p. A5.
  7. "Canada Votes, 2004". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
  8. "Beaches - East York - Canada votes 2008".
  9. Lawton, Valerie (December 12, 2001). "Chrétien defends Minna". The Globe and Mail. p. A8.
  10. Harper, Tim; Whittington, Les (February 28, 2002). "Angry Minna blames PM for lack of support". Toronto Star. p. A7.
  11. Harper, Tim (March 1, 2002). "MP pleads for the chance to clear her name". Toronto Star. p. A6.
  12. "MP Maria Minna cleared by ethics counsellor". CBC News. September 27, 2002.
  13. "Status of Women Minister Josée Verner Misleads Committee". Canadian Federation of University Women. February 5, 2008.
  14. "Liberal Opposition Critics". Archived from the original on 2008-04-12.
  15. "Riding results from across Canada". Edmonton Journal. May 3, 2011. p. A6. Missing or empty |url= (help)
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