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Max Saltsman

Max Saltsman

Inducted 2001

Samuel Mayer "Max" Saltsman was born in Toronto on 9 May 1921. He was known throughout his life as "Max" and, in 1962, he had his name legally changed to Max. Mr Saltsman quit school at the age of 14 after completing one year of high school. He spent five years overseas as a mechanic with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. While in the armed forces Mr Saltsman took a number of Canadian Legion study courses, many of them correspondence courses. In the following years he upgraded his formal education by taking university extension courses.
In 1947, Mr Saltsman arrived in Galt and started S.M. Saltsman & Co., Tailors and Dry Cleaners. The business prospered and Mr Saltsman became active in local politics. In 1958, he was elected to the Galt Public School Board where he served until 1961. Mr Saltsman followed his stint on the school board with his election to Galt city council where he served from 1962 to 1964. In 1963, Mr Saltsman was the New Democratic Party candidate to represent the riding of Waterloo South in the federal parliament. He lost that election to Gordon Chaplin of the Progressive Conservative Party but his campaign set the stage for another attempt in a by-election, necessitated by the death of Mr Chaplin, held in 1964. Mr Saltsman won this election and was re-elected on three subsequent occasions, holding the riding for the NDP until he retired from federal politics prior to the 1979 election. His decision not to run was determined, in part, by events that occurred at a trial in Toronto. Mr Saltsman's name came up at the trial of Obed Gardiner who was sentenced to prison for assaulting his wife who had worked for Mr Saltsman.

While in Ottawa, Mr Saltsman supported the Liberal government in its imposition of the War Measures Act in 1970 and favoured wage and price controls in 1975. He instituted the "Pink Max" awards as a "tongue-in-cheek" means of pointing out waste in the private sector. It was his answer to the "Blue Max" award, named for Auditor-General Max Henderson who provided many examples of the wasteful spending practices of the federal government. Mr Saltsman's most celebrated initiative was a plan to annex the Turks and Caicos Islands, British islands that were part of Bermuda. The stated goal was to keep Canadian tourist dollars in Canada. His private member's bill never reached the floor of the House of Commons. Despite what might be perceived as rather "off-beat" ideas, Mr Saltsman won the respect of his caucus colleagues and served his party as finance critic from 1968 to 1979. He was also a member of the joint House-Senate Committee on Rising Living Costs which issued a scathing denunciation of government inactivity on what was seen as price gouging and demanded a Prices Review Board.

In September 1971, Mr Saltsman was appointed a special lecturer in management science at the University of Waterloo, lecturing mainly on the relationships between business and government. Mr Saltsman was one of the founders of the Saltsman-Kerr Lecture Series in Canadian Studies at the University of Waterloo. He also lectured on political science at Wilfrid Laurier University. Mr Saltsman noted at the time of his appointment that he was "one of the few persons who did not attend either high school or university, or get a diploma, to be asked to lecture at university". In 1980-81, he acted as chairman of the Committee for an Independent Canada and, in 1983, was appointed by Ontario premier William G. Davis to serve on the Inflation Restraint Board. Mr Saltsman continued to serve on that Board until a few weeks before his death. In July 1985, Mr Saltsman announced that he intended to run as a candidate for a councillor-at-large seat on the Cambridge city council in the November 1985 election. On October 21, he announced that he was withdrawing from the election because he had been diagnosed with liver cancer. Max Saltsman died in Wellesley Hospital in Toronto on 28 Nov 1985 and is buried in Mount View Cemetery.

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