Al Leach

Allan F. Leach (born December 9, 1935 in Toronto, Ontario) is a former transportation executive and politician in Ontario, Canada. In the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s he was the head of GO Transit and later the Toronto Transit Commission. He was a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1995 to 1999, and was a prominent cabinet minister in the government of Mike Harris.

Before entering politics, Leach spent 23 years in various managerial positions with the Ministry of Transportation Province of Ontario. He later moved to GO Transit, and was GO's Managing Director from 1977 to 1987. He was hired as Chief General Manager of the Toronto Transit Commission in 1987, and served in that position until resigning in early 1995 to seek political office. Leach was named North American Transit Manager of the year in 1994 by the American Transit Association.

Leach was elected to the provincial legislature in the 1995 Ontario election, narrowly defeating Liberal incumbent Tim Murphy and New Democrat Brent Hawkes in the downtown Toronto riding of St. David — St. George. His victory was generally considered an upset. In 1995, the Progressive Conservative Party's electoral strength was concentrated in rural areas and the commuter regions around Toronto -- Leach's victory in an urbane, downtown riding was atypical of his party's showing elsewhere. Many consider Leach's victory to have been the result of a vote split between the Liberal and NDP candidates: he received less than 34% of the riding's vote, outpolling Murphy by only 337 votes and Hawkes by 963.

Leach was appointed as the Harris government's Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing on June 26, 1995, and held this position until the 1999 provincial election. In this capacity, Leach presided over a number of controversial issues, including amalgamating the City of Toronto with five of its suburbs, ending rent control, and cutting provincial grants to the metropolitan region. He also presided over market value reassessment for private property in downtown Toronto. These decisions reduced Leach's popularity in the Toronto area.

Former old Toronto mayor John Sewell emerged as a leader of the anti-amalgamation forces in Toronto, and threatened to challenge Leach as an independent candidate in the 1999 election. Many felt Sewell's participation would help Leach be re-elected by splitting the vote again. However, Leach retired from politics at age 65 after a single term.

After the 1999 election, the Harris government appointed Leach to the Toronto Police Services Board, and as vice-chair of the GO Transit Board. In 2004, he resigned from the TPSB and was not reappointed to the Go Transit Board by the Ontario Liberal Party majority government.

Leach (2000-2005) served as a Director of St. Michaels Hospital and as a Director of SNC-Lavalin Ltd (2000-2007). SNC-Lavalin is the largest engineering company in Canada with offices in 60 countries.


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