Eggleton, an accountant by profession, was first elected to Toronto city council in 1969. He was initially a reformer, serving as budget chief in the urban reform council elected in 1973 under David Crombie, however, he became more conservative as time progressed.
He was the Liberal Party of Canada's candidate in a 1978 by-election in the Toronto riding of Parkdale, but was defeated. In 1980, he ran against left-wing mayor John Sewell, and was elected. His administration was generally pro-development and conservative. As mayor, Eggleton controversially refused to proclaim Pride Week. In 1985, he withstood a challenge from reformist city councillor Anne Johnston, a fellow Liberal, who ran against Eggleton for the mayoralty in that year's civic election. He retired from municipal politics in 1991 as the longest serving mayor in Toronto history.
He ran in the 1993 election in the suburban Toronto riding of York Centre, again as a Liberal, and won election. Prime Minister Jean Chrétien appointed him to the position of President of the Treasury Board and Minister for Infrastructure in the new Cabinet.
From January 1996 to June 1997, he served as Minister for International Trade. Eggleton retained his seat in the 1997 election, and was appointed Minister of National Defence. He is an honorary member of the Royal Military College of Canada student #S128.
He was re-elected again in the 2000 election, but ran into trouble two years later when it was revealed that he gave a government contract to his ex-girlfriend Maggie Maier a $36,500 contract to write a report on post-traumatic stress disorder and environmental illness among Canadian soldiers. The deal was discovered by the Ottawa Citizen. It was one of a series of minor scandals affecting Liberal ministers at the time. On May 26, 2002, Eggleton was dismissed from Cabinet as due to the revelations. Another misstep in January 2002, when Mr. Eggleton as Defence Minister omitted to tell his Liberal colleagues that Canadian Forces in Afghanistan had detained persons and transferred them to the United States (who ultimately put them in Guantanamo Bay) led to questions about his competence in the House, and a widely reported rebuke from the PM. His career never recovered from this error.
As a backbencher, he became critical of Chrétien, and expressed his support for Paul Martin. Despite this, he was not returned to cabinet when Martin became Prime Minister in December 2003. On May 13, 2004, Eggleton announced he would not be a candidate in the 2004 federal election making way for the nomination of Ken Dryden as the Liberal candidate in York Centre. He was appointed to the Senate by Paul Martin on March 24, 2005.
See also List of Ontario senators.
Show of farce? (At the Conference of Defence Associations, Art Eggleton and Maurice Baril state that the Canadian military is combat ready).
Mar 01, 2001; On 22 February 2001, the Conference of Defence Associations hosted their annual gathering at the prestigious Chateau Laurier...