Thomas Crerar

Thomas Alexander Crerar, PC CC (June 17, 1876 April 11, 1975) was a western Canadian politician and a leader of the short-lived Progressive Party of Canada. He was born in Molesworth, Ontario, and moved to Manitoba at a young age.

Thomas Crerar
The Honourable Thomas Alexander Crerar in August 1919
Member of Parliament
In office
Preceded byWilliam James Roche
Succeeded byHenry Mullins
In office
February 5, 1930  July 28, 1930
Preceded byRobert Forke
Succeeded byDavid Wilson Beaubier
In office
Preceded byBernard Stitt
Succeeded byRonald Moore
Personal details
Thomas Alexander Crerar

(1876-06-17)June 17, 1876
Molesworth, Ontario
DiedApril 11, 1975(1975-04-11) (aged 98)
Victoria, British Columbia
Political partyProgressive (1917-1925)
Liberal (1929-1975)

Early career

Crerar rose to prominence as leader of the Manitoba Grain Growers' Association in the 1910s. Although he had no experience as an elected official, he was appointed as Minister of Agriculture in Robert Laird Borden's Union government on October 12, 1917, to provide a show of national unity during the First World War. He was easily elected to the House of Commons of Canada for Marquette in the election of 1917.

On June 6, 1919, Crerar resigned from his position in protest against the high tariff policies of the Conservative-dominated government. He was strongly in favor of free trade with the United States, which would have benefited the western farmers.

Progressive Party of Canada

In 1920, he was selected as leader of the Progressive Party. In the 1921 election, he led the party to a landslide victory in western Canada, giving them 65 seats in the House of Commons. Crerar failed to hold the party together, however. He resigned as leader in 1922, and the party collapsed shortly thereafter.

Private sector work

Crerar spent some time in the private sector before returning to politics in 1929, as a member of William Lyon Mackenzie King's Liberal Party. Although once again not holding a seat in parliament, he was appointed Minister of Railways and Canals (Canada) on December 30, 1929, and won a by-election in Brandon on February 5, 1930. King's government was defeated in the general election that followed, however, and Crerar was personally defeated in his riding.

Return to politics

He returned to parliament in the 1935 election, as the member for the northern Manitoba riding of Churchill. He was once again appointed to King's cabinet, serving as Minister of Immigration and Colonization, Minister of Mines, Minister of the Interior and Superintendent-General of Indian Affairs from October 23, 1935 to November 30, 1936. On December 1, 1936, he was removed from most of his responsibilities and became simply Minister of Mines and Resources, holding the position until April 17, 1945.

Crerar was appointed to the Senate of Canada on April 18, 1945, and remained a Senator until his retirement on May 31, 1966. In 1973, he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada. He died in 1975.

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