Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Lincoln Alexander (1922 - 2012)

By Carlos Ferguson

Lincoln Alexander was born in Toronto in 1922. Both his parents migrated from the Caribbean. His mother was Mae Rose from Jamaica and his father Lincoln Alexander from St. Vincent. Lincoln attended  Earl Grey Public School and Riverdale Collegiate in Toronto. He later moved to New York with his mother after the family separated, but later moved back to Canada at his mother’s urging. Once back in Canada he joined the Royal Canada Air Force during the Second World War.

After the war Lincoln Alexander went back to school to complete his studies, economics and history at Mc Master in 1946 and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1953.

Lincoln Alexander has had a very distinguished career as a public servant in Canada which is highlighted in a historical context because of the barriers of inequity, social injustice and racism he had to overcome. In 1968 he became first black Member of Parliament by winning his seat in Hamilton West district in the federal election as Progressive Conservative candidate.

In 1980 he was appointed Minister of Labour by Prime Minister Joe Clarke, thus becoming the first black man in Canada to hold a cabinet post in a federal government. He later resigned his seat to become chairman of the Ontario Compensation Board. He served as the honorary chief of Hamilton Police services, and was chairman of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

In 1985 Lincoln Alexander was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Ontario by Jeanne Sauvé, the Governor General of Canada. He was made Order of Ontario; he also became the Companion of the Order of Canada, an appointment by Prime Minister Jean Chretien.

Throughout his public life his major focus was on racism, youth and education. Lincoln Alexander died in his sleep on October 19, 2012, at the age of 90.


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