No longer shall it be said, when ### story is related that a man has ###isen, from newsboy and bootblack ###o a ministerial post, that it is ###ure Horatio Alger fiction.
David Arnold Croll’s rise to political heights proves that what may sound as fiction can also become reality.
Brought to Canada by his parents at the age of six, Croll was ###n turn newsboy, shoe-shiner and ###rrand boy in Windsor. At twenty-five he was called to the bar. At thirty he was elected mayor of Windsor, receiving an overwhelming vote in spite of whispering campaigns on the grounds of his Jewishness. He was re-elected as mayor in another fine demonstration of loyalty on the part of his constituents. Now, at the age of thirty-four, he emerges the victor in the Ontario Parliamentary electionsâ€”and on top of it has been chosen by Premier-elect Mitchell F. Hepburn to be the Minister of Labor in his cabinet.
An uncompromising liberal, Mayor Croll has built up one of the strongest followings boasted of by any political leader in Canada. Seeking election to the Ontario provincial Parliament in the Windsor-Walkerville district, he received 9,828 votes against the combined vote of 8,691 for the three candidates who opposed him.
Mayor Croll was born in Moscow, Russia, on March 12, 1900, the first-born son of Hillel and Minnie Croll. His father was a cattle dealer who found life unbearable in Russia and left to settle in Canada, in 1904. Two years later he brought his family to this continent. Only a handful of Jews lived in Windsor at that time. This city of 60,000, of whom only 1,000 are Jews, was then a village compared with the beautiful city of today, which borders on Detroit. It was a hard struggle for the Crollsâ€”but the future mayor and the minister-of-labor-to-be found the hardships to be a school of experience.
Hillel Croll remained in the business, but it was not sufficiently lucrative to educate five sons and a daughter. The boys had to ply for themselves, and David set out to sell newspapers. With Jacob Geller, now the head of the Windsor News Company, Dave acquired a newsstand. He graduated from Patterson Collegiate in 1918, secured a place for himself in the office of the late Frank D. Davis, K.C., and became a law student. It was at Collegiate that he met his wifeâ€”Sarah Levin of Detroit, University of Michigan graduate, mother of his three daughters, the youngest born only a month ago.
In 1921 Croll enrolled in Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He served as a student with Mr. Justice Hughes, now of the Supreme Court of Canada. He graduated in 1925, was called to the Bar in May, married in June. Then began the law career and the eventual entrance in politics. A thirty-second degree Mason and a Shriner, a member of I.O.O.F., the Maccabees and the Grotto, David Croll never forgot his own people. Always a Zionist, a member of B’nai B’rith, a devotee of Hebrew education, it is easy to see why he should have befriended every Jew in Windsor, without an exception.
Talk to any Windsorite, however, and he will tell you that David Croll has many friends because he is consistent in his politics. He makes no compromises in his liberalism. He is always prepared to sponsor a law which will make for a free life; and he is the champion of the cause of the oppressed and the poverty-stricken, whether in time of prosperity or depression.
MAYOR IN 1930
He was elected Mayor of Windsor in 1930 because he had very decided ideas on how to run a city of 60,000 people. And he missed not a single opportunity to tell the voters what his views were. When he became mayor, Windsor suffered from the tremendous burden of caring for the unemployed. About 10,000 who had previously commuted to Detroit were barred by United States laws from retaining their positions. Tax collections were declining, but the cost of running the government was mounting.
Croll managed to save his city. Not only did he solve the various problems which oppressed his government when he assumed the reins, but he made of Windsor a model of good government, now being copied by mayors throughout Ontario. It is no wonder, therefore, that he was re-elected by the largest clear majority in the history of the cityâ€”a majority of 6,780 in a field of three.
A most spectacular incident marks the career of Mayor Croll. He visited the land settlers in Northern Ontario in the Spring of 1933. He visited the homes of settlers from Windsor in the course of a motor tour and discovered lack of attention by the government, inadequate supplies of food and equipment, an oppressed feeling of discontent. His published findings rocked the province and secured considerable relief for the sufferers. It is an interest in the welfare of the people, as manifested by this incident, that won for Mayor Croll the affection of tens of thousands of Canadian citizens.
On the day of Mayor Croll’s elevation to a ministerial post, the Border Cities Star of Windsor paid him a high editorial tribute. Calling his election one of the outstanding features of the provincial contests and labeling the record of his life a thrilling one, the Border Cities Star concluded the two-column editorial by stating:
“Why did Dave Croll win two mayoralty elections and the Provincial contest today? Because the people know an able man, a fighter, a true son of democracy when they see one. The general Liberal sweep helped Mr. Croll, of course, but even it was not enough to roll up the majority he secured. That was a tribute to his personal popularity, as well as a condemnation of the tactics of his principal opponent.
“At Toronto Mayor Croll will give the people the same sterling representation he has given them as chief magistrate of this city. He can be depended upon twenty-four hours of the day to battle for the rights of his riding and of humanity generally. His many friends welcome the opportunity that now comes to him to serve in a larger field. They know he will make good there just as he has made good here. The interests of his riding, his Province and his country will always be nearest to his heart. And especially will he be working for the poor and the sick and the helpless and the oppressed. Dave Croll is no mere politician looking for votes. He is a true friend of the people and as Minister of Labor and Municipal Affairs there will be no doubt where he stands.”