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Philip Gerald Givens, QC (April 24, 1922 – November 30, 1995) was a Canadian politician and judge. He was the Mayor of Toronto, a Member of Parliament (MP) and Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP). He was born and raised in Toronto and attended high school at Harbord Collegiate Institute. He studied law at Osgoode Hall Law School and graduated in 1949. He became a judge after leaving politics in the late 1970s. He retired from the judiciary in 1988, and died in Toronto in 1995.

Life and career

Givens was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Mary and Hyman Gewirtz, and was Jewish.[2] A Liberal, Givens was a longtime member of Toronto's city council. As the senior controller on the city's Board of Control, he was appointed Toronto's acting mayor upon the sudden death of the incumbent, Donald Summerville, on November 19, 1963.[3] He served the remaining 13 months in Summerville's two-year term, and then was elected as mayor in the 1964 municipal election. He led a public campaign to purchase a sculpture by artist Henry Moore, The Archer, for placement in Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square in front of Toronto City Hall.[1] Although vigorously opposed at the time by traditionalists, Givens got his way and the sculpture has become a beloved piece of public art. The controversy had a political cost however and Givens was defeated when he ran for re-election as mayor in 1966.

Givens ran for the Canadian House of Commons in the 1957 and 1958 federal elections, but was defeated in his bid to become Member of Parliament for Spadina. He was finally elected to Parliament in the 1968 election from the York West electoral district in suburban Toronto.[1] In 1971 he resigned from the House of Commons before his term was completed. He then ran in the 1971 Ontario provincial election for the Ontario Liberal Party in the Ontario Legislative Assembly's York-Forest Hill constituency. He won the close three-way race by promising to support the completion of the Spadina Expressway (Allen Road) on the constituency's western border.[4] His constituency was abolished in the 1975 electoral district boundary redistribution. In the 1975 provincial election he was elected again as a Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) in the Armourdale constituency.[5] He defeated future Toronto mayor (and then-Mayor of North York) Mel Lastman.[5] After retiring from politics in 1977, Givens was given a judicial appointment and was made chairman of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Commission.[1]


  • Denov, Stef (1975-09-19). "'Big names' among the also-rans as 3 cabinet ministers beaten". The Toronto Star. p. A15. 
  • Gladstone, Bill (2012). "Phil Givens, Toronto's new mayor (1963)". Best of Bill Toronto. Archived from the original on 2013-10-25. Retrieved 2013-10-25. 
  • Star staff (1963-11-20). "Givens becomes Toronto's acting mayor". The Toronto Daily Star. p. 1. 
  • Star staff (1971-10-22). "Givens: Island of joy amid Liberal's gloom". The Toronto Daily Star. p. 11.