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Frank Klees (born March 6, 1951) is a Canadian politician and the Progressive Conservative member of Provincial Parliament for the riding of Newmarket-Aurora north of Torontomarker. He was a candidate in the 2009 Progressive Conservative leadership election placing second behind victor Tim Hudak.

Early life

Klees was born in Landaumarker, West Germanymarker. His parents were Danube Swabians, Germanmarker pioneers whose ancestors settled in parts of eastern Europe that would later be known as Hungarymarker and Yugoslavia. At the age of five, Klees came with his family to Canada by boat and settled in Leamington, Ontario.

Business career

Klees first ran for the Ontario legislature in the 1975 provincial election in a traditionally Liberal riding, narrowly losing to Liberal Remo Mancini in the southwestern riding of Essex South. He lost to Mancini a second time in the 1977 election, and did not run as a candidate again until 1995. He remained active as a party member.

He worked as a businessman the intervening years, beginning in the financial services sector with the Canada Life Assurance Co. He then became an entrepreneur, and started a sports agency which represented professional athletes. Klees also co-founded the Municipal Gas Corporation in 1990, and served as its executive vice-president until 1997. When he sold the business, it had grown to a significant enterprise with 55,000 customers.

Political career

From 1992 to 1994, he was third vice-president and policy chair of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Klees was first elected to the legislature in the election of 1995, defeating former Liberal leadership candidate Charles Beer. He was easily re-elected in the 1999 provincial election, and on June 17, 1999 joined the cabinet of Premier Mike Harris as Chief Government Whip, Deputy House Leader and Minister without Portfolio.

In 2000, Klees was preparing to run as a candidate for the leadership of the new Canadian Alliance, but withdrew because one of his key financial backers insisted on a last-minute deal to make a significant funding commitment conditional on Klees throwing his support to one of the other candidates on the second ballot.

Klees stepped down from his ministerial position on July 30, 2001 for what he described as personal reasons. After returning to the backbenches for a year, he was reappointed to cabinet on October 3, 2002 as Minister of Tourism under Harris' successor, Ernie Eves. On February 25, 2003, he became Minister of Transportation, and served in that position until the defeat of the Eves government in the October 2003 election.

Klees was re-elected in 2003 (one of 24 Progressive Conservatives elected) and was a candidate in the 2004 Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership election which took place on September 18, 2004. He was endorsed by Tory MPP Jerry Ouellette, Ted Chudleigh and Bill Murdoch, and groups such as the Conservative Youth Coalition. The other candidates in the race were Whitby-Ajax MPP Jim Flaherty and former Rogers Communications CEO John Tory.

Klees made healthcare his biggest priority in the campaign. He was the only candidate to openly endorse a semi-privatized health care system. Other key issues of his campaign were school choice, physical education in the school system, OHIP statements, and foreign-trained doctors applying for employment.

He was eliminated from the contest after placing third on the first ballot; Tory subsequently won on the second ballot. Klees increased his profile during the campaign, and is currently the Progressive Conservative Critic for Education and Citizenship & Immigration in the Legislature as well as a member of the Justice Committee.

Klees did better in the 2009 leadership race placing second behind the winner, Tim Hudak.

Klees lives in Aurora, Ontariomarker. Klees was elected in the newly-created provincial riding of Newmarket-Aurora in the Ontario general election, 2007. On March 30, 2009, he declared his candidacy in the 2009 Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership election.

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