AVE SE PRONONCE
Equal Voice invites you to Be her. Support her. Celebrate her.

 

Equal Voice Mourns the Loss of the Hon. Flora MacDonald, Trailblazing Giant for Electing More Women in Canada

Jul 28, 2015

 

Equal Voice (EV) mourns the loss of the late Hon. Flora MacDonald, a formidable trailblazer for a generation of women in politics. And Equal Voice has a special relationship with Ms. MacDonald – she was the second recipient of Equal Voice’s National EVE Award in 2006 and served on EV’s National Advisory Board for many years.
 

“It’s a huge loss for Canada. Her engagement in politics shifted the political landscape for women of her time and beyond. She was brave, politically astute, and had an infectious joyfulness which made her a natural leader. She paved the way for many notable women who would follow in her footsteps,” noted Rosemary Speirs, founder of Equal Voice.  

 

The Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister and fellow EV National EVE Award recipient, had this to say: “A great woman and force for good in Canada and the world. I am grateful to have ‘stood on her shoulders' ”. 

 

Despite entering the political arena at a time when women were a rarity, Ms. MacDonald’s talent and determination assured her a place in Canada’s history books as a woman of firsts. Born and raised in a small town in Cape Breton, N.S., her father’s job as a trans-Atlantic telegraph operator offered her a portal into the larger world of geo-politics and international affairs. She never turned back. 
 

“It was in the ‘backroom’ of politics in the late 1950's and 1960's where Ms. MacDonald got her start. Her immersion in various political campaigns for the Progressive Conservative Party, including that of leader and then Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, gave her tremendous insight into the political process,” emphasized Lynne Hamilton, Equal Voice’s National Chair.
 

After serving in varied political roles for more than 15 years, she became the first and only woman to win the federal riding of Kingston and the Islands (John A. MacDonald’s old riding), securing it in 1972 as the only woman of 107 PC Members of Parliament elected. She held the seat for over fifteen years during a dynamic time in Canada’s political history.

 

It was not her only first. Three years later, she became a candidate for the national party’s leadership, the first and only woman in a crowded leadership race.  

 

Being a woman was not the only feature that distinguished her leadership bid. Innovation defined her campaign. She adopted a grassroots approach to fundraising decades before it became popular with Canada’s political parties, launching something called The Dollar for Flora campaign. Nearly 20,000 Canadians, many of them not wealthy, contributed. She also dared to differ with her male counterparts on key issues, including capital punishment and abortion. 

 

Her keen political instincts and knowledge of international affairs would serve her well. She was appointed by Prime Minister Joe Clark as Minister of External Affairs, one of very few women in the western world to serve in such a senior capacity. Under her watch, her department brokered an unique arrangement that would facilitate the immigration of 60,000 Vietnamese refugees displaced by the war to Canada.  

 

She also oversaw a set of complex security arrangements, including the provision of falsified Canadian passports, in support of US diplomats who were in hiding after the Iranian hostage crisis. Having more than proved her mettle, she went onto serve as Minister of Communications under Brian Mulroney.

 

Former federal Minister Pat Carney who also served in Prime Minister Mulroney’s cabinet remembers her this way.  “Flora the Fearless was a mentor to women MPs such as myself and coached Prime Minister Brian Mulroney on the importance of women's issues. But she will be remembered the most for her humanitarian work around the world. There was nobody like her then or now.”
 
In 1988, Ms. MacDonald was defeated over the contentious issue of free trade with the United States.

 

Despite over two decades of political service, Ms. MacDonald refused all offers of a political appointment and became heavily involved in international development. In so doing, she abandoned much of the prestige and comfort that accompany high-level politics.

 

“Flora was a natural-born leader and a great humanitarian who always put people first. She devoted her life to making her party, her country and her world a better place,” commented Former Deputy Prime Minister and long time Liberal Member of Parliament, the Hon. Sheila Copps. 

 

Ms. MacDonald eventually formed her own non-governmental organization, Future Generations Canada. Its emphasis was on supporting girls and women to become educated – and promoting their civic participation as equal decision-makers. Fueled by the same energy and commitment that she brought to many a political campaign, her engagement with Future Generations Canada has shaped hundreds of Afghan communities as indelibly as her contribution here in Canada has affected the lives of thousands of Canadians.  

 

Former federal leader of the New Democratic Party, Audrey McLaughlin, shared this anecdote.  

 

"I often came across Flora in airports and at conferences and she was in her late seventies or eighties and off on yet another trip to ride a donkey across the countryside in a far off place to simply improve the lives of women. She never gave up the struggle for equality and her legacy reminds us of our responsibility to do the same." 

 

And most importantly, she did it all on her terms.

 

"Whatever your political stripe, Flora MacDonald enriched politics and the world. Women in politics today owe her a debt of gratitude," underscored Hamilton.

 

With thanks to Patrick Martin of the Globe and Mail. The Globe and Mail published a comprehensive obituary of Flora MacDonald which can be found here.

Participez... aux chapitres d'À voix égales partout au pays. Trouvez-en un près de chez vous, ou peut-être même que vous pouvez lancer un chapitre

École de campagne en ligne Osez vous lancer:
pour les femmes de tous les âges, de tous les antécédents de la société intéressées à se présenter en politique.

MORE INFO ON GETTING ELECTED TO PUBLIC OFFICE

Title Sponsor

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Or

Commanditaire Argent

Commanditaire Argent

 

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Commanditaire Bronze

Greenshield

Supporters

 

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

Supporters

SUPPORTERS

Supporters

Supporters

Merci également au gouvernement du Canada (Condition féminine et Patrimoine canadien) pour son soutien financier.