Walt Lastewka

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Walter Thomas Lastewka

Member of Parliament
for St. Catharines
In office
Preceded byKen Atkinson
Succeeded byRick Dykstra
Personal details
Born (1940-10-11) October 11, 1940 (age 80)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Political partyLiberal
Spouse(s)Carol Lastewka
ResidenceSt. Catharines, Ontario
ProfessionExecutive manager, industrial engineer

Walter Thomas Lastewka, PC (born October 11, 1940) is a Canadian politician. He was a member of the House of Commons of Canada from 1993 to 2006, representing the Ontario riding of St. Catharines as a member of the Liberal Party.

Early life and career[edit]

Lastewka was born in Montreal, Quebec and was educated at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (known at the time as Ryerson Technical Institute) in Toronto, receiving a diploma in 1963. He was hired as an industrial engineer by General Motors in the same year, was promoted to supervisor of industrial engineering in 1967, and held several managerial positions before his retirement in 1992. He completed the three-week-long University of Western Ontario Executive Program in 1981. Lastewka has been involved in several community activities, including serving as a director of the United Way and as a trustee of Brock University. He is also a former director and parish chairman for St. John's Ukrainian Church. In the early 1990s, he was head of the St. Catharines Promotion Task Force.[1]

Political career[edit]

Lastewka joined the St. Catharines branch of the Liberal Party in 1972, and worked as campaign manager to federal MP Gilbert Parent in every election between 1974 and 1988. He was vice-president of organization for the Ontario Liberal Party from 1979 to 1981, and chaired provincial campaigns for Jim Bradley and Harry Pelissero. He was elected to parliament in the 1993 election, defeating incumbent Progressive Conservative Ken Atkinson by a significant margin.

He served as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Industry from 1997 to 1999, and as parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services from 2003 to 2006. Before the 2004 election, he held special responsibility for matters relating to procurement review.

A Hamilton Spectator newspaper report from 1996 described Lastewka as "one of the most hardworking, effective parliamentarians" in office. He spearheaded a movement to clean up the St. Catharines Twelve Mile Creek during his first term, and used his knowledge of government bureaucracy to expedite the city's bid to host the 1999 World Rowing Championships.[2] Lastewka supported Paul Martin's bid to succeed Jean Chrétien as Liberal Party leader during the 1990s, and was one of the first Liberal MPs to call for Chrétien's resignation in 2000.[3] It was reported that a 2002 telephone conversation between Lastewka and Chrétien turned heated, with Lastewka claiming that the Liberal government under Chrétien hadn't "done a damn thing" for Niagara.[4]

In 1995, Lastewka criticized the Government of Canada for attempting to deport Johann Dueck, a constituent who had been accused of committing war crimes during World War II. The government asserted that Dueck was the deputy chief in a police unit that participated in Nazi atrocities and charged him with having obtained Canadian citizenship in 1948 by concealing his past. Dueck denied the charges, saying that he had been conscripted by the Nazis at gunpoint to work as a translator. Lastewka argued that if Dueck was to be charged, it should have been under a 1987 law that allowed accused war criminals to be tried domestically in Canada.[5] Referring to the deportation procedure, he was quoted as saying "I feel very uncomfortable that we have to go back 50 years to correct whatever happened then [...] My heart goes out to them and their family and their friends." He pledged to help the family in any way he could.[6] Lastewka was criticized for these comments by the Toronto Star newspaper and some Canadian Jewish leaders, including Sol Littman of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.[7] The charges against Dueck were dismissed in 1998, when Justice Marc Noel found that the government had not proven he was a war criminal or even a member of the police unit in question. He was not deported, and a subsequent editorial in The Globe and Mail newspaper described him as having been "clearly innocent of the charges."[8]

Also in 1995, Lastewka petitioned the government for an inquiry into the way crown officials handled the prosecution of Karla Homolka. Homolka, a former resident of St. Catharines, was given a twelve-year sentence through a plea-bargain despite having assisted her husband, Paul Bernardo, in the rape and murder of two young girls. Lastewka argued that the sentence was far too lenient and called for a review of the negotiation process.[9] He later called for Senator Michel Biron to resign in 2005, after Biron wrote a letter opposing restrictions on Homolka following her release. Lastewka said that he was "appalled" by Biron's letter and wrote that the Senator displayed "complete and utter disregard" for the families of Homolka's victims.[10] In light of these and other criticisms, Biron offered an apology.

Lastewka holds socially conservative views on some issues. He voted against Bill C-33 (1996), which amended the Canadian Human Rights Act to include sexual orientation as a prohibited basis for discrimination.[11] He later voted against Bill C38 (2005), which legalized same-sex marriage rights in Canada. However, he later argued that the Canadian government should accept the legal status of same-sex marriages and not revisit the issue. Local gay rights activist Ted Mouradian endorsed Lastewka in 2005, arguing that he was a better candidate than his Conservative opponent.[12]

He was narrowly defeated by Conservative Rick Dykstra in the 2006 federal election. The margin of defeat was only 244 votes, one of the smallest in the country.

On March 22, 2007, Lastewka was acclaimed as the Liberal Party candidate for St. Catharines in the next federal election.[13] However, Lastewka was defeated by an increased margin in the 2008 election.

Electoral record[edit]

2008 Canadian federal election
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative (x)Rick Dykstra 23,474 45.9% +8.4% $77,155
Liberal Walt Lastewka 14,652 28.6% -8.4% $85,551
New Democratic George Addision 9,428 18.4% --2.1% $21,329
Green Jim Fannon 3,477 6.8% +2.8% $3,511
Communist Sam Hammond 113 0.2% $410
Total valid votes/Expense limit 51,144 100% $88,319
Rejected ballots 161
Turnout 51,305
2006 Canadian federal election: St. Catharines
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Conservative Rick Dykstra 21,668 37.5 +2.8 $78,093.76
Liberal Walt Lastewka 21,424 37.0 −3.4 $76,408.07
New Democratic Jeff Burch 11,849 20.5 +1.2 $15,482.42
Green Jim Fannon 2,306 4.0 +0.3 $991.15
Christian Heritage Bill Bylsma 499 0.9 −0.5 $8,736.24
Marxist–Leninist Elaine Couto 100 0.2 +0.1
Total valid votes 57,846 100.0
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
2004 Canadian federal election: St. Catharines
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Walt Lastewka 21,277 40.4 −4.5 $67,606.54
Conservative Leo Bonomi 18,261 34.7 −13.2 $76,063.45
New Democratic Ted Mouradian 10,135 19.3 +13.1 $13,554.17
Green Jim Fannon 1,927 3.7 $1,145.69
Christian Heritage Linda Klassen 751 1.4 $15,303.13
Canadian Action Jane Elizabeth Paxton 204 0.4 $0.00
Marxist–Leninist Elaine Couto 61 0.1 −0.1 $6.90
Total valid votes 52,616 100.0
Total rejected ballots 240
Turnout 52,856 62.03
Electors on the lists 85,209
Percentage change figures are factored for redistribution.
Conservative Party percentages are contrasted with the combined Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservative percentages from 2000.
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
2000 Canadian federal election: St. Catharines
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Walt Lastewka 20,992 44.9 +1.5 $48,037.11
Alliance Randy Taylor Dumont 15,871 34.0 +3.0 $65,538.72
Progressive Conservative Ken Atkinson 6,522 14.0 +0.6 $20,495.69
New Democratic John Bacher 2,878 6.2 −3.4 $12,153.96
Natural Law Jim Morris 203 0.4 −0.1 $0.00
Independent Tilly Bylsma 166 0.4 $4,942.92
Marxist–Leninist Elaine Couto 93 0.2 $8.00
Total valid votes 46,725 100.0
Total rejected ballots 223
Turnout 46,948 60.02
Electors on the lists 78,215
Sources: Note: Canadian Alliance vote is compared to the Reform vote in 1997 election
Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
1997 Canadian federal election: St. Catharines
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Walt Lastewka 21,081 43.5 −5.6 $46,896
Reform Rob Hesp 15,029 31.0 +2.2 $41,350
Progressive Conservative Gregg Crealock 6,503 13.4 −1.6 $25,799
New Democratic Ed Gould 4,657 9.6 +3.8 $24,683
Christian Heritage Tristan Emmanuel 688 1.4 +0.2 $7,249
Canadian Action G.L. Malcolm 308 0.6 $2,976
Natural Law Helene Darisse 245 0.5 $0.00
Total valid votes 48,511 100.0
Total rejected ballots 272
Turnout 48,783 65.49
Electors on the lists 74,484
Sources: Official Results, Elections Canada and Financial Returns, Elections Canada.
1993 Canadian federal election: St. Catharines
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Liberal Walt Lastewka 23,928 48.99 $49,786
Reform Rob Hesp 14,011 28.69 $31,523
Progressive Conservative Ken Atkinson 7,448 15.25 $40,187
New Democratic Jane Hughes 2,799 5.73 $10,877
Christian Heritage David W. Bylsma 568 1.16 $3,349
Abolitionist Kevin Doucet 86 0.18 $0
Total valid votes 45,652 100.0
Total rejected ballots 383
Total valid votes 49,223 68.44
Electors on the lists 71,919
Source: Thirty-fifth General Election, 1993: Official Voting Results, Published by the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada. Financial figures taken from official contributions and expenses provided by Elections Canada.

All electoral information is taken from Elections Canada. Italicized expenditures from elections after 1997 refer to submitted totals, and are presented when the final reviewed totals are not available. Expenditures from 1997 refer to submitted totals.


  1. ^ Agnes Bongers, "Garden City's $3-million ad campaign brings in seven jobs after 18 months", Hamilton Spectator, 10 December 1991, B5.
  2. ^ Joan Bryden, "Few seals on ship of state", Hamilton Spectator, 26 December 1996, A01.
  3. ^ William Walker, "Martin secretly prepares campaign", Toronto Star, 16 March 2000, p. 1.
  4. ^ Doug Herod, "Lack of Niagara profile coming back to haunt Chrétien", St. Catharines Standard, 20 June 2002, A3.
  5. ^ David Vienneau, "MP slams bid to oust Nazi", Toronto Star, 6 May 1995, A10.
  6. ^ "MP rebuked for soft line on war crimes", Toronto Star, 7 May 1995, A16.
  7. ^ "MP rebuked for soft line on war crimes", Toronto Star, 7 May 1995, A16; "It's still a crime" [editorial], Toronto Star, 9 May 1995, A22.
  8. ^ "Pursuing Johann Dueck" [editorial], The Globe and Mail, 23 February 1999, A16; Paul Legall, "$1.77m paid to men cleared of Nazi charges", Hamilton Spectator, 6 December 2001, A12.
  9. ^ Rob Andrus, "Hometown petitions fight Homolka deal", Toronto Star, 3 September 1995, A7.
  10. ^ Grant Robertson, "Tory MP blasts senator over controversial comments", Montreal Gazette, 14 June 2005, A14.
  11. ^ Journals (No. 043) — 35-2 — House of Commons, Parliament of Canada
  12. ^ Canadian Press, "Former NDP candidate in Ont. riding urging residents to vote for Liberals", Canadian Press, 21 December 2005, 20:01 report.
  13. ^ "Lastewka acclaimed as Liberal candidate". Liberal Party of Canada. March 22, 2007. Retrieved 2008-07-14.

External links[edit]