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Robert Douglas Kennedy was born in 1916 at Cooksville, Ontario and was raised on a farm in Dixie as part of a family of ten children. As a child he attended Burnhamthorpe Public School and then Port Credit High School. In 1935 Kennedy went to the Ontario Agricultural College in Guelph, he majored in animal husbandry and graduated in 1939 with a B.S.A.
After graduation Kennedy joined the Canadian Army and fought for four and a half years during World War II, eventually achieving the rank of Captain in the Canada and Northwest Pacific Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps.
Following the war Kennedy worked for twelve years with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs helping to settle veterans and their families. After this he worked for two years with the Farm Credit Corporation, the successor to the Canadian Farm Loan Board, from which he resigned in 1967 in order to seek provincial nomination. He also served on the South Peel Board of Education from 1955 to 1963, including two years as Chairman. He also served on the Toronto Township Hydro Commission from 1963 to 1967, one year as Chairman.
In 1967 Kennedy was first elected to the Ontario Legislature, and was later re-elected in 1971, 1975, 1977 and 1981. During these years he served on numerous Standing and Selection Committees. As a Member of Provincial Parliament, Kennedy introduced a number of important Private Bills, including bills:
- for the mandatory use of seatbelts.
- for the protection if personal privacy.
- to provide residents of mobile home the right to vote for Boards and Commissions.
- to compensate victims of crime.
- to provide parking facilities for physically handicapped persons.
- to establish an Arbour Day.
- to amend the Expropriation Act.
As well, Kennedy introduced the following major resolutions within Parliament:
- to ban the non-returnable bottle.
- to control right of entry to private property.
- to provide protection for travellers.
Kennedy was appointed Government Whip in 1971; Chief Government Whip in 1972; Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education in 1976; and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Inter- governmental Affairs in 1981.
Kennedy’s other afflictions include being a member of the Agricultural and Appraisal Institutes of Canada; past Executive and member of the Cooksville Royal Canadian Legion; former Executive and coach of the Toronto Township Hockey League; and former member of the Committee of Aging, Social Planning Council of Peel.
In the mid 1970s, Kennedy kept in touch with his constituents through a weekly newspaper column. He also occasionally hosted a short radio talk-show on a local station.
In 1940 Kennedy married Kathleen Helen Krafft of Cayuga, Ont. and the two had four children: Sue, John, Pat and Janet. A notable relative of Kennedy’s was Col. Thomas Laird Kennedy, who represented Peel County at Queen’s Park for all but three years between 1919 and 1959, much of this time as Minister of Agriculture. In 1949 he served as Premier of Ontario for seven months.