Alexa McDonough, former NDP chief and trailblazer for ladies in politics, has died | CBC News


Alexa McDonough, the primary girl to guide a big political celebration in Canada and an inspiration to generations of New Democrats even after her retirement from politics 14 years in the past, has died. She was once 77.

The former chief of each the federal and Nova Scotia New Democratic events died at a care house in Halifax on Saturday, after a long fight with Alzheimer’s illness, her circle of relatives mentioned.

Known affectionately as merely Alexa, McDonough modified the face of politics in Canada and lead the way for different girls to take their puts on the pinnacles of political energy.

The one-time social employee’s hobby for social justice carried her first to the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, the place she helped craft the celebration’s social coverage platform within the 1970 provincial election. But by means of 1974, upset with the federal government of then-premier Gerald Regan, she discovered a brand new house within the NDP and not left.

McDonough was once greeted by means of supporters throughout a federal election marketing campaign when she attended a rally in Cornerbrook, NL, on Nov. 25, 2000. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

McDonough by no means shied clear of a problem, failing two times to win a seat within the House of Commons earlier than launching a bid for the management of the Nova Scotia NDP in 1980. The reality she did not have a seat within the provincial House of Assembly, nor a lot make stronger in Cape Breton, house to her management opponents, didn’t impede her efforts.

She handily beat the 2 to change into the primary girl in Canada to guide a big political celebration.

Nearly a 12 months later, within the provincial common election, she gained a seat within the district of Halifax Chebucto, the celebration’s first win on mainland Nova Scotia. It was once a surprising disenchanted, in particular for the Liberal incumbent who had laughed off the potential of a McDonough win on election day.

For the following 3 years, she was once a celebration of 1 and the one girl at Province House, house to Nova Scotia’s legislative meeting.

McDonough thank you her granddaughter, six-year-old Abbie Jean McDonough, after pronouncing on June 2, 2008, she would no longer be looking for re-election. McDonough represented the NDP federally for 13 years. (Mike Dembeck/Canadian Press)

The NDP did not meet the two-seat threshold to cause additional public investment or earn known celebration standing, so McDonough had no time to avoid wasting her first political victory. She needed to lift at the battle of keeping the PC govt of John Buchanan responsible with a skeleton workforce and on a shoestring finances.

Although a lone voice throughout her first 3 years within the legislature, McDonough was once steadfast in her complaint of the “old boys club,” patronage and the way in which participants of the House performed themselves. She mentioned she was once subjected to sexist and misogynistic private assaults in consequence.

MLAs gave so little concept or attention to girls representatives that there wasn’t even a separate washroom to be had for feminine MLAs at Province House. McDonough needed to line up to make use of the general public washroom one flooring under the chamber whilst her male colleagues had get right of entry to to a washroom simply steps from their seats.

Clarence Williams, 89, waited patiently for McDonough at a federal election marketing campaign rally at a Canadian Auto Workers corridor in Windsor, Ont., on Nov. 24, 2000. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Although she loved private reputation, McDonough was once no longer ready to guide the celebration previous the three-seat high-water mark it completed in 1984 and once more within the 1993 election. On Nov. 19, 1994, she resigned as chief and not using a definitive plans for her long run.

“It’s very, very important to me that you understand I do it with total joy, and with no sense of regret whatsoever,” she advised supporters the day she introduced her choice.

John Holm, her caucus colleague who would take over as chief, paid tribute to her at a celebration match later that 12 months: “I have, over the years, grown to not only love and respect Alexa, but to admire her tremendous courage and integrity “

Barely a 12 months later, McDonough’s burning want to have an effect on alternate, in particular for ladies, drove her to a brand new problem, federal politics. She threw her hat into the hoop to check out to win the management of Canada’s New Democratic Party, in what was once extensively observed as a long-shot problem to the perceived front-runners, Svend Robinson and Lorne Nystrom.

Once once more, she outlined the percentages and was once elected chief in 1995.

McDonough, left, is greeted by means of Ontario NDP atmosphere critic Marilyn Churley as she arrives to a federal election marketing campaign prevent in Toronto on Oct. 22, 2000. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

In the House of Commons, as she did up to now at Province House, McDonough championed the desire for sturdy social systems, a extra being concerned and compassionate govt, and gender fairness.

She made larger electoral positive factors throughout her time main the federal celebration than she did throughout her 14 years on the helm of the provincial celebration. The 12 months she first gained her seat within the House of Commons, in 1997, New Democrats greater than doubled their seat rely from 9 to 21.

She characterised that election as a battle for a greater Canada.

“This campaign is going to be about a real debate between what kind of a Canada we’re going to build, what kind of services are going to be there for working people, for working families,” McDonough mentioned.

But the following election introduced a disappointing end result, and in 2003 McDonough resigned to sit as a member of the team rather than its captain, She left politics for just right in 2008, opting for to take action surrounded by means of circle of relatives, pals and previous colleagues on the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax, in the similar room she had introduced her political occupation 29 years up to now.

“It’s time for the torch to be passed to the upcoming generations,” she advised journalists and supporters on June 2, 2008.

Born in Ottawa in 1944, McDonough grew up in a house the place her father, Lloyd Shaw, and her mom, Jean MacKinnon, had been energetic within the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, a precursor to the NDP.

Coming from a distinguished Nova Scotia circle of relatives, the Shaws, McDonough’s political opponents have infrequently disregarded her as having been born with a silver spoon in her mouth, preventing for reasons from a place of privilege.

Criticism, on the other hand, perceived to spur her on slightly than discourage her.

Watch Alexa McDonough discuss in 2013 about her breast most cancers prognosis:

Alexa McDonough opens up about most cancers

The former NDP chief mentioned she won the scoop about 4 months in the past. 4:06

After politics, McDonough served as president of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax for a year when it wanted an period in-between chief. The college is now house to the Alexa McDonough Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice.

She has since been known for her lengthy and outstanding political occupation. She was once awarded the Order of Canada in 2009 and the Order of Nova Scotia in 2012, the similar 12 months the Association of Former Parliamentarians gave her an entire life success award.

Her well being has been a subject for greater than a decade. She was once handled for breast most cancers and was once later recognized with Alzheimer’s illness.

Through all of it she has been surrounded and aided by means of her circle of relatives and closest pals, a few of whom had been political allies and shut confidants.

McDonough leaves in the back of two sons, Justin and Travis.



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