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First woman in Canada to lead a federal political party.
Born in Dutton, Ontario on November 7, 1936.
Political Affiliation: New Democratic Party (NDP)
Legislative Career: First elected to the House of Commons in the July 20, 1987 by-election as Member of Parliament for Yukon. Served until 1997.
Honours and Awards: Sworn to the Privy Council, January 10, 1991.
The Hon. Audrey McLaughlin achieved many "firsts" in her life. She was the first member in her family to obtain a university degree, first New Democrat to represent the Yukon in the federal parliament, first woman chair of the parliamentary caucus of any federal party in Canada, and first woman in Canadian history to lead a federal political party.
Before 1987, Audrey McLaughlin worked as a caseworker for the Children's Aid Society of Metropolitan Toronto, a teacher in Ghana, West Africa, and Executive Director of the Metro Toronto Branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association. After moving to the Yukon in 1979 and starting her own consulting business, she worked on various projects such as improving child welfare legislation and conducting research on land claims and aboriginal self-government, and was active in local NDP election campaigns.
She won the 1987 by-election and during her first two years in office fulfilled her duties as NDP critic for Northern Development, Tourism, the Constitution and Revenue Canada. In 1988 she became chair of the party caucus, feeling it was an important step toward improving the role of women in the party, and on December 2, 1989, she was elected leader of the party.
In the 1993 election, she retained her seat, but the NDP lost its official party status with only nine seats. Audrey McLaughlin announced in April 1994 her decision to step down as party leader but remained interim leader until her successor, Alexa McDonough, was chosen at the NDP convention in Ottawa, October 12-15, 1995.
Gagnon, Lysiane. — "La p'tite femme d'à côté a gagné". — Châtelaine. — Vol. 31, no. 4 (avril 1990). — P. 77-82.
Lownsbrough, John. — "Sister Audrey". — Saturday Night. — Vol. 107, no. 4 (May 1992). — P. 37-39, 68-72.
McLeod, Ian. — Under seige : the federal NDP in the nineties. — Toronto : James Lorimer & Company, c1994.
McLaughlin, Audrey. — A woman's place: my life and politics. — Toronto : Macfarlane, Walter & Ross, c1992.
McLaughlin, Audrey. — "Compromise is key feature of accord". — Canadian speeches : issues of the day. — Vol. 6, no. 6 (October 1992). — P. 52-55.