John Horton McDermid was a member of Parliament for the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada from 1979 until his retirement in 1993. He represented the federal riding of Brampton-Georgetown from 1979 to 1988, and, when the riding was separated in two in 1988, he became the first elected member of Parliament for the federal riding of Brampton.
McDermid was born in Hamilton on March 17th, 1940. His parents were Reverend John Andrew McDermid and Nora Horton McDermid. In 1942, the family moved to Brampton, Ontario, after the Reverend McDermid was offered a ministry at St. Paul’s United Church, which he led until his death in 1970. Nora died eleven years later on March 6th, 1981.
John H. McDermid married his first wife, Elayne, a Peel schoolteacher, in the early 1960s, and they divorced near the end of his political career. Prior to his election in 1979, McDermid worked a variety of jobs: he was a radio and television announcer in Welland and Kitchener for six years; he was an assistant executive director of the Ontario Real Estate Association for seven years; he was an executive assistant to Ontario’s Ministry of Industry and Tourism, under Claude Bennett; he was a founder and shareholder of a private airline company, Pem-Air; and, in 1978, when he made his successful bid for the Progressive Conservative nomination for his riding, he was the Manager of Public Relations and Planning at the Ontario Place Corporation.
McDermid first announced his candidacy for the Progressive Conservative nomination for his federal riding in 1971. He lost the party’s nomination to Ellwood Madill, who went on to win the riding, defeating the Liberal candidate, Ross Milne. Madill lost to Milne in the 1974 federal election.
In 1978, McDermid sought the nomination again as the Progressive Conservative candidate to represent his federal riding, which had by then changed into Brampton-Georgetown. He won the nomination, and defeated Milne in the May 1979 federal election, becoming Brampton-Georgetown’s member of Parliament in Prime Minister Joe Clark’s minority government.
McDermid worked on multiple portfolios during his fourteen years in politics. In 1984 he began the first of two Parliamentary Secretary appointments under Minister Pat Carney, first as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, and then followed her as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for International Trade. As Carney’s Parliamentary Secretary, McDermid worked on, and successfully campaigned for, the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. This success began a series of Cabinet appointments as a Minister of State in Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s government: he jointly held the portfolios for International Trade, and for Housing (1988 – 1989); he held the Privatization and Regulatory Affairs portfolio (1989 – 1991); and he held the Finance and Privatization portfolio (1991 – 1993), during which he also briefly was an acting Minister of State for Housing.
On March 28, 1993, McDermid announced his retirement from politics after Brian Mulroney decided to retire. Looking back over his career, he was quoted in the The Hill Times, “[i]f I had to say what the highlights of my career were I’d say working with Brian Mulroney and carrying the free trade legislation through the House. My first election, my appointment to cabinet and dismantling the National Energy Program was definitely a highlight.”
In 1992, McDermid married former pro-golfer Sandra Post, and after his retirement they settled in Caledon, Ontario. Since retiring, he has been involved with the Lorne Scots (Peel, Dufferin and Halton Regiment), with the Central West Local Health Integration Network, and has followed his passion for golf.