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Oliver Mowat

Sir Oliver Mowat (1820-1903) was a Canadian politician, and premier of Ontario from 1872-1896.

Born in Kingston, Ontario, he was trained as a lawyer and worked in the law office of John A. Macdonald. However, he did not trust the politics of Macdonald, Georges-Etienne Cartier, or the other leaders of the Conservative party. As a member of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada from 1858-1864 he was closely associated with George Brown, and he was also an avid supporter of "representation by population." With Brown, he was a member of the Great Coalition.

Mowat was a representative at the Quebec Conference in 1864, where he helped work out the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments.

Also in 1864, he was appointed vice-chancellor of Ontario, which he held until he was elected premier in 1872. As premier he fought for provincial rights, weakening the power of the federal government in provincial matters. His battles with the federal government greatly decentralized Canada, giving the provinces far more power than some, such as John A. Macdonald had intended. In 1896 he became a Senator in Ottawa, where he was also Minister of Justice. In 1897 he was appointed Lieutenant governor of Ontario.

Mowat was knighted in 1892. He died in Toronto in 1903.



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