Born: November 7, 1936
Place of Birth: Dutton, Ontario
Audrey McLaughlin was the first woman to become the leader of a national Canadian political party.
McLaughlin married when she was 18 and, while helping her husband run a mink ranch, completed a BA degree program through correspondence.
From 1964-67 she taught school in West Africa and then returned to Canada to enter an MA program at the University of Toronto.
After receiving her degree, she entered social work for the city's Children's Aid Society.
Her marriage ended in divorce in 1972, however, Audrey McLaughlin continued her career and in 1975 was made the head of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
McLaughlin moved to Whitehorse, Yukon, in 1979 and set up a consultant business dealing with social work.
It was here that Audrey McLaughlin became active in NDP political matters.
She entered and won a federal by-election in 1987 becoming the first NDP candidate to win an election in the Yukon.
With experience as her party's caucus leader in Parliament, in 1989, she ran for the leadership of the federal NDP Party.
Audrey McLaughlin won the leadership convention in a close race against David Barrett and replaced the popular Ed Broadbent.
Around this time, the party lost some support because of problems at the provincial levels in British Columbia and Ontario.
McLaughlin was one of the NDP members who voted against the Meech Lake Accord.
When a general federal election was called in 1993, the NDP lost all its Ontario seats and did not win enough seats overall to maintain its official party status.
Some felt that the public were against the NDP for having elected a female leader.
McLaughlin's own view was that a true Parliament would have a 50% female composition.
As with the tradition of losing political leaders, McLaughlin tendered her resignation as Leader in 1994.
She remained as the MP from Whitehorse until the 1997 election was called.
After her retirement, McLaughlin was selected as the President of the Socialist International Women, an organization which promotes
activities amongst various women's socialist and labour party organizations.
Audrey McLaughlin has been made an Officer of the Order of Canada for her past efforts toward social justice.
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