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David Tsubouchi (坪内) is a former politician in Ontariomarker, Canadamarker. He was a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1995 to 2003, and was a cabinet minister in the governments of Mike Harris and Ernie Eves. He is currently Associate Counsel at the national Canadian law firm Miller Thomson LLP.


Tsubouchi has a Bachelor of Arts degree from York Universitymarker and a law degree from Osgoode Hallmarker. He served as a senior partner in the firm of Tsubouchi & Nichols following his graduation. Tsubouchi was also an Associate Director of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, and was a frequently contributor to the Law Gazette. He received an Air Canada Heart of Gold award in 1988, and was granted a coat-of-arms from the Canadian Governor-General's office in 1993.

In the Movies

Tsubouchi was also an actor before entering political life. He was an uncredited extra playing a Chinese gangster speaking with a stereotypical accent on an episode of the Canadian comedy series SCTV in 1982, and had a small role in David Cronenberg's Videodrome (1983).

Tsubouchi himself became the subject of film when Ken Finkleman included him in a panoply of brutal caricatures of Harris cabinet ministers in his 1998 mini-series More Tears.

Local Politics

Tsubouchi served as a ward councillor in Markhammarker from 1988 to 1994.

Provincial Politics

In the provincial election of 1995, he won a landslide majority in the provincial riding of Markham, defeating his nearest opponent by over 26,000 votes. The Tories won a majority government in this election, and Tsubouchi was named Minister of Community and Social Services in the government of Mike Harris on June 26, 1995.

In this portfolio, Tsubouchi was responsible for presiding over drastic cuts in the province's welfare system. He also made a number of gaffes in his early tenure as a minister. Tsubouchi suggested that welfare recipients who had their funding reduced should consider haggling down the price of dented cans of tuna to 69 cents each. He also claimed that single mothers on welfare had ample time to find jobs, after having given a three-month warning for a 22% cut in benefits.

Later, he prepared a sample menu which listed affordable food purchases for those whose welfare rates had been reduced. His list was found to have less nutritional value than the diet served to prisoners in Ontario jails. There were several calls for his resignation in the wake of these comments, and even the right-wing Toronto Sun tabloid suggested that he should be removed. Nevertheless, he was retained in the portfolio until August 16, 1996, when he was named Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.

Notwithstanding his handling of the Social Services portfolio, Tsubouchi was regarded in some circles as one of the more progressively-minded ministers in the Harris government. He supported the centre-right Progressive Conservative Party of Canada rather than the right-wing Reform Party at the federal level, and in 2000 was the only member of the Progressive Conservative caucus to openly support Joe Clark for the federal party's leadership. He was also credited by some for at least making an effort to cushion the blow of his government's welfare cuts. Nonetheless, the legacy of his department's cutbacks would follow Tsubouchi for the rest of his career, and make him a frequent target of social activists opposed to the Harris government.

Tsubouchi's tenure as Consumer and Commercial Relations Minister was comparatively uneventful. He was easily re-elected in the provincial election of 1999, defeating Liberal Steven Kirsch by just over 13,000 votes.

On June 17, 1999, he was appointed as the province's Solicitor-General. He held this position until a cabinet shuffle on February 8, 2001, when he was named Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet.

Tsubouchi supported Ernie Eves's successful bid to replace Mike Harris as party leader in 2002. Eves retained him as chair of the Management Board, and also named him as Ontario's Minister of Culture on April 15, 2002.

In the provincial election of 2003, Tsubouchi was upset by Liberal candidate Tony Wong, losing by about 6,000 votes. In 2004, he supported John Tory's successful bid to replace Eves as party leader.

In 2007 he was invested as a Knight in The Equestrian, Secular and Chapterial Order of Saint Joachim in Toronto.

See also

Preceded by:

Don Cousens for Markham—Stouffville (1981-1994)
Member of Provincial Parliament for Markham
Succeeded by:

Tony Wong (2004-2006)

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