Grossman, Allan (1910–1991) and Larry (1944–1997)

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GROSSMAN, ALLAN (1910–1991) and LARRY (1944–1997)

GROSSMAN, ALLAN (1910–1991) and LARRY (1944–1997), Canadian father-and-son political team that, one after the other, represented a heavily Jewish inner-city Toronto riding in the provincial legislature for 32 consecutive years.

Allan Grossman was born in Toronto. His father, Morris, arrived in Canada from Poland in 1907 and two years later brought his wife, Sarah, and their six children to join him. Allan was their seventh child. As a young man Grossman developed an interest in Conservative Party politics. At 16 he was founder of the Junior Conservative Association. While he went into business and became a successful insurance agent he remained active in local politics. In 1951, Grossman entered municipal politics and won election to Toronto's municipal council and was reelected in the three following elections. In 1955 he shifted to provincial politics, running for the Progressive Conservatives. He won a hard-fought campaign against Communist Party incumbent Joseph Salsberg, taking the inner-city St. Andrews riding. Grossman was reelected in 1959 and in 1960 he was appointed to the provincial cabinet as minister without portfolio, becoming the first Jew appointed to a provincial cabinet. During 20 years in cabinet, Grossman often spoke out for stronger anti-discrimination and human rights legislation. He also went on to be the minister responsible for liquor sales in Ontario, a provincial government monopoly, then minister of reform institutions, overseeing administration of provincial correctional institutions. Under his leadership, Ontario initiated a long-overdue reform of the penal system. Before he retired from political life in 1971 Grossman held several other provincial cabinet posts, including minister of trade and development. In this capacity he led the first western trade mission to China.

Grossman was also active in many Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Immigrant Aid Society, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and the Zionist Organization of Canada.

Allan Grossman's son, Larry, was born in Toronto and studied law there. When his father retired from electoral politics, he gave up law for politics and ran in the same riding for the Progressive Conservatives and was elected. He held the seat through the next three elections. Considered among the more progressive members of his party – "a Tory with conscience" – he was appointed to the provincial Cabinet and held a number of different portfolios including Consumer and Corporate Relations, Education, Health, and Provincial Treasurer. In 1985, when then Premier William Davis announced his retirement, Grossman ran to replace him but lost to the much more conservative Frank Miller. Miller resigned after being soundly defeated by the Liberal Party in the 1985 provincial election and Grossman was chosen to lead a much divided provincial Progressive Conservative Party. The still popular Liberals went to the polls again in 1987 and the results relegated the Conservatives to third party in the legislature behind the ndp. Grossman lost his own seat and resigned. He returned to private legal practice but fell ill with brain cancer and died at 53.


P. Oliver, Unlikely Tory: The Life and Politics of Allan Grossman (1985).

[Harold Troper (2nd ed.)]

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Grossman, Allan (1910–1991) and Larry (1944–1997)

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