James McGrath (Canadian politician)

The Honorable
James Aloysius McGrath
8th Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador
In office
September 5, 1986  November 5, 1991
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor General Jeanne Sauvé
Ray Hnatyshyn
Premier Brian Peckford
Tom Rideout
Clyde Wells
Preceded by Tony Paddon
Succeeded by Frederick Russell
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for St. John's East
In office
June 10, 1957  April 8, 1963
Preceded by Allan Fraser
Succeeded by Joseph O'Keefe
In office
June 25, 1968  September 5, 1986
Preceded by Joseph O'Keefe
Succeeded by Jack Harris
Personal details
Born (1932-01-11) January 11, 1932
Buchans, Newfoundland and Labrador
Nationality Canadian
Political party Progressive Conservative
Profession sales manager

James Aloysius McGrath, PC (born January 11, 1932) is a former politician and the eighth Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland, Canada.


As a young man, McGrath was a member of the Responsible Government League which opposed Newfoundland joining Canadian Confederation. Nevertheless, upon the province's joining confederation in 1949, McGrath left to enlist with the Royal Canadian Air Force. He returned to Newfoundland in 1953 and became sales manager with radio station CJON. In 1955, he became secretary of the provincial Progressive Conservative Party association. In 1956, he ran unsuccessfully for the party in the provincial election.

Federal politics

He entered federal politics the next year, and won a seat in the Canadian House of Commons in the 1957 election as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for St. John's East. In 1962, McGrath became parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Mines and Technical Surveys, and served in that position until he was defeated along with the Diefenbaker government in the 1963 election.

McGrath regained his seat in the 1968 election, and remained in parliament through five subsequent elections.

When the Progressive Conservatives formed the government following the 1979 election, Prime Minister Joe Clark advised the Governor General to appoint McGrath Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. McGrath returned to the opposition bench when Clark's minority government was defeated in the 1980 election.

McGrath was not included in the Cabinet when the Tories returned to power in the 1984 election under Brian Mulroney. Instead, McGrath was appointed chairman of the Special Committee on the Reform of the House of Commons. The report he authored led to a number of procedural changes, including the introduction of election by secret ballot for the position of Speaker of the Canadian House of Commons. Its recommendations also led to the formation of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians, established in 1996.[1] McGrath also served as chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights.


In August 1986, McGrath left politics to accept an appointment as Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador. He retired from the position in 1991.



  1. J. Barry Turner, "Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians". Canadian Parliamentary Review, Autumn, 1996. As reprinted by The Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
  2. Canadian Heraldic Authority (Volume II), Ottawa, 1990
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