Alexa Mcdonough Obituary, Death – Alexa McDonough, the first woman to lead a major political party in Canada, has passed away today after a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s disease at the age of 77. May she rest in peace. Today is a sad day for Canada. Alexa Mcdonough was the first woman to lead a major political party in Canada. She dedicated her life to social justice, championed women in politics, and never backed down from a challenge. We’ll miss her dearly. Rest in power Alexa.
Alexa McDonough, who led the Nova Scotia NDP in 1980, making her the first woman to lead a major political party in Canada, has died at the age of 77. The former federal and Nova Scotia NDP leader died Saturday at a nursing home in Halifax after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, her family said.
Affectionately known as Alexa, McDonough changed the face of Canadian politics and paved the way for other women to rise to the top of political power. Even after retiring from politics 14 years ago, she has been an inspiration to generations of New Democrats.
A former social worker’s passion for social justice led her to her first admission to the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, where she helped shape the party’s social policy platform in the 1970 provincial election. But by 1974, disillusioned with the government of then-Prime Minister Gerald Regan, she found a new home in the NDP and never left.
McDonough never shied away from the challenge, twice failing to win a seat in the House of Commons before launching a campaign for the leadership of the NDP in Nova Scotia in 1980. The fact that she doesn’t have a seat in the provincial council and doesn’t have much support in Cape Breton, the seat of her leadership rival, hasn’t hindered her efforts.
She handily defeated both men to become Canada’s first woman to lead a major political party. Nearly a year later, in the provincial election, she won a seat in Halifax’s Chebukto district, the party’s first victory in mainland Nova Scotia. It’s a shocking dismay, especially for a Liberal incumbent who mocked McDonough’s chances of winning on Election Day.
For the next three years, she was the one and only women’s party in the provincial capital, home of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly. The NDP didn’t meet the two-seat threshold to trigger additional public funding or gain recognized party status, so McDonough didn’t have time to enjoy her first political victory. She had to keep fighting to hold John Buchanan’s PC government accountable with a skeleton staff and a limited budget.
Alexa Mcdonough dead and obituary, first woman to lead a major political party in Canada – cause of death
Although McDonough was a solitary voice during her first three years in the legislature, she was a staunch critic of the way the “Old Boys Club,” patronage, and members of the House of Representatives behaved. She said she was personally attacked by sexism and misogyny as a result.
There is so little consideration or consideration for female representation in MLAs that the province doesn’t even provide separate restrooms for female MLAs. McDonough had to stand in line to use the public restroom on the floor below the conference room, while her male colleagues had access to restrooms just steps from their seats.
Despite her personal popularity, McDonough failed to lead the party beyond the three-seat highs it reached in the 1984 and 1993 elections. On November 19, 1994, she resigned from her leadership role without a clear plan for her future.
“It’s very, very important to me that you understand that I’m doing this with joy and no regrets,” she told supporters the day she announced her decision. Her caucus colleague John Holm, who would take over as leader, paid tribute to her at a party event later that year: “I have not only loved and respected Alexa, but admired her tremendous courage and integrity over the years.”
Just a year later, McDonough’s strong desire for change, especially for women, prompted her to face a new challenge, federal politics. She threw her hat into the ring in an attempt to win the leadership of Canada’s NDP in what is widely seen as a long-standing challenge to considered frontrunners Swindon Robinson and Lorne Nystrom.