Trailblazing former NDP chief Alexa McDonough dies at 77

NDP chief Alexa McDonough waves to supporters at a breakfast assembly in Toronto on May 27, 1997. McDonough, the previous chief of each the Nova Scotia New Democrats and the federal New Democrats, has died at age 77.Moe Doiron/The Canadian Press

Former federal NDP chief Alexa McDonough, a political trailblazer who paved the best way for girls in politics, died Saturday in Halifax on the age of 77.

Her household confirmed McDonough’s loss of life after a prolonged wrestle with Alzheimer’s illness.

McDonough turned the primary girl to go up a serious political social gathering in Canada when she was elected chief of the Nova Scotia New Democrats in 1980. She turned chief of the federal NDP in 1995 and served within the social gathering’s prime put up till 2002.

But in an interview Saturday, Justin McDonough mentioned his mom was a consensus builder who earned respect past partisan political strains.

“I think the one thing that I really learned from her is that you can have courageous conversations and you can disagree with someone, but it doesn’t mean that you aren’t going to be respectful and you’re not going to appreciate their opinion,” he mentioned. “Her political life resonated in that regard.”

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston paid tribute in a press release calling McDonough an historic determine in provincial and federal politics.

“The hallmark of Ms. McDonough’s long career was her respect for the people she represented,” Houston mentioned. “She was a public servant in the truest sense and she will be sorely missed by people across Canada.”

Known affectionately to many throughout the nation as merely “Alexa,” McDonough was a former social employee who minimize her political enamel within the Nova Scotia Liberal Party earlier than switching to the provincial NDP in 1974.

After capturing the social gathering’s management, she turned the primary New Democrat from mainland Nova Scotia to take a seat within the provincial legislature when she was elected in a Halifax space using in 1981. She was the social gathering’s lone voice within the legislature over the following three years.

“These are accomplishments of real historic stature,” mentioned Gary Burrill, the present chief of the Nova Scotia NDP. “She is a big person on the landscape in the history of the province.”

Burrill mentioned Nova Scotia New Democrats have suffered a major loss and are a “party in mourning.”

McDonough resigned as provincial chief in 1994 and later made the leap to federal politics, the place she mounted a problem for the nationwide social gathering’s prime job in 1995. She received the federal NDP management in an upset over perceived front-runners Svend Robinson and Lorne Nystrom.

She was elected to the House of Commons for the primary time through the 1997 federal election, whereas her social gathering’s seat depend went from 9 to 21. That whole included a breakthrough in Atlantic Canada, the place the New Democrats took six of Nova Scotia’s 11 seats.

“That was a moment that broke the mould of Nova Scotia politics which had been in place for over a century,” Burrill mentioned.

McDonough made her mark federally as a champion of robust social applications and gender equality. She retired from politics in 2008.

Born Alexa Ann Shaw in Ottawa on Aug. 11, 1944, she adopted the identify identified throughout the nation when she married Peter McDonough in Halifax in 1966.

McDonough was an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the Order of Nova Scotia and is a previous president of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax.

She is survived by her sons, Justin and Travis, together with seven grandchildren.

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