Arnott is currently one of the longest serving MPPs in the Ontario Legislature.
Ted Arnott was born in 1963 in Fergus, Ontario. He grew up in Arthur, Ontario where his family was in the engineering construction business. While attending school, he had a newspaper delivery route at the age of 9, and later worked part time as a retail store clerk, a construction labourer, and a factory worker. He also played minor hockey, lacrosse, and later tennis.
In 1979, he received recognition from the Order of St. John of Jerusalem for rendering "assistance which was instrumental in saving the life of a drowning man" at the Rockwood Conservation Area on August 20, 1978, receiving the honour from the Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police, Harold H. Graham.
After graduating from Arthur District High School, he attended Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in Political Science, and later receiving a Diploma in Business Administration. From 1987-1990, he was Executive Assistant to Jack Johnson, MPP for the Riding of Wellington and Chair of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Caucus.
Married in 1990, he and his wife Lisa live in Fergus, Ontario, and are the parents of three sons.
Arnott first ran in the 1990 provincial election as the Progressive Conservative candidate in the Riding of Wellington at the age of 27. Bucking a trend which produced a majority New Democratic Party Government led by Bob Rae, he was elected with a plurality of 1,304 votes. At the time of his election, Arnott was the youngest MPP in the Ontario Progressive Conservative Caucus. Between 1990-1995, he served as PC Critic to the Minister of Transportation, and later as Critic to the Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Recreation, and as Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Estimates.
In the 1995 provincial election, Arnott was re-elected in Wellington, receiving 67% of the votes cast, as part of a majority Progressive Conservative Government led by Mike Harris.
While supporting the overall objectives of the Common Sense Revolution, the party's electoral platform, during the campaign he refused to sign the Taxpayers' Protection Pledge being circulated by the Ontario Taxpayers' Federation. Despite pressure from his party, he explained at the time that he was not willing to make promises that he could not be certain of keeping. He was the only PC candidate out of 130 candidates not to sign the pledge.
During the 1995-1999 term of office, he served as Chair of the Standing Committee on the Legislative Assembly, and later as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development and Trade, with responsibilities for supporting small business.
Re-elected in the provincial election of 1999 in the newly created Riding of Waterloo—Wellington, he served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development and later to the Minister of the Environment and then the Deputy Premier and Minister of Education. When Ernie Eves was elected Premier in 2002, Arnott asked not to be considered for a Cabinet position, saying the absences from home required of a Cabinet Minister would not allow him to spend sufficient time with his young family.
In the 2003 provincial election as Dalton McGuinty's Liberals were given a majority, Arnott was re-elected in Waterloo-Wellington by a margin of 5,206 votes. This was despite a poll published by the Kitchener-Waterloo Record the week before the election predicting his defeat and claiming he was 18 percentage points behind his Liberal challenger.
Returning again to the role of Opposition, Arnott was appointed by the Legislature as First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House, a Presiding Officer role assisting the Speaker of the House. However, he continued to focus first and foremost on the needs of his Riding.
In the 2007 provincial election, despite the re-election of a majority Liberal Government, Arnott was re-elected to the Legislature in the new Riding of Wellington—Halton Hills, becoming a GTA MPP for the first time. He was again appointed First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House, serving in this role until 2009. After Tim Hudak's election as PC Leader, Arnott became Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. Later his knowledge of House procedure was recognized with his appointment as Deputy House Leader of the Official Opposition.
After being re-elected yet again in Wellington-Halton Hills in the 2011 provincial election, Arnott was again serving in Opposition. He was again appointed as First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House.
The McGuinty Liberals had been returned with a minority Government. They were unable to pass a budget without the support or abstention of the New Democratic Party Caucus, which caused great uncertainty and speculation as to when the Government might fall. In 2013, Dalton McGuinty resigned as Premier, and was succeeded by Kathleen Wynne.
After New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath announced her party would vote against the 2014 Liberal Budget, Kathleen Wynne called a provincial election for June 12, 2014. Even though the PC Party ran a poor campaign province-wide, Arnott was re-elected in Wellington-Halton Hills by a comfortable margin. Once again, he was appointed First Deputy Chair of the Committee of the Whole House. He was named PC Critic to the Minister of Economic Development, Employment, and Infrastructure, and also served as PC Critic to the Minister of Labour. In February 2017, he was named PC Critic to the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
Arnott has been characterized as a "moderate Conservative," and he often reaches across Party lines to get things done.
Over the years, he has introduced many Private Member's Bills and Resolutions which have been passed by the Legislature or been adopted as Government Policy.
A partial list of his legislative accomplishments includes his amendment to the Highway Traffic Act allowing volunteer firefighters to use a flashing green light on their personal vehicles when responding to an emergency. His resolution highlighting the Healthy Babies, Healthy Children program led to a 500 percent increase in its budget, allowing "at risk" children to be identified and receive the needed supports to reach their full potential. His amendment to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Act to allow municipalities to purchase the highest level of coverage for their volunteer firefighters was adopted as a Government bill and was passed into law. His resolution calling attention to the diminishing contribution by the Government of Canada to Ontario's health care costs was passed by the House, leading to a new health funding agreement. His controversial bill supporting "double hatter" firefighters received more hours of debate at 3rd Reading than any other Private Member's Bill in the history of the Legislature. Working with a Liberal MPP, he introduced the very first bill in the history of the Ontario Legislature co-sponsored by Members from different parties. That bill established August 1 as Emancipation Day in Ontario, recognizing the day when slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834, and was passed into law. Another amendment he proposed to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Act, to ensure volunteer firefighters were covered under "presumptive legislation" in the same manner as full-time firefighters, was adopted as Government policy. Another bill he introduced, co-sponsored by Liberal and NDP MPPs was passed recognizing January 21 as "Lincoln Alexander Day" in Ontario. Later a similar bill was passed by the Parliament of Canada. His resolution proposing a massive expansion of volunteer tree-planting efforts in Ontario for the province's 150th anniversary in Confederation was passed by the House, leading to the announcement of "Ontario's Green Leaf Challenge" program.
He is an Honorary Member of the Firefighters' Association of Ontario and the Ontario Association of Road Supervisors, in recognition of his work with those organizations.
In recent years, he has worked with local partners, persistently and successfully advocating for a new Groves Memorial Community Hospital, supporting renovations and improvements to the Georgetown Hospital, the Highway 6 Morriston bypass project, a new Wilfrid Laurier University campus in Halton, a new Halton Courthouse, and other significant infrastructure projects.
The National Post wrote in 2002 that Arnott has "long been known as one of the most decent politicians at Queen's Park."
In 2004, Wilfrid Laurier University named him one of their graduates who are "making a difference around the world."
In November 2016, he announced his intention to run in the next provincial election, which is scheduled for June 7, 2018.