Dorise Nielsen

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Dorise Winifred Webber Nielsen (July 30, 1902 – December 9, 1980) was a Canadian politician and teacher.


Before politics[edit]

Born in England, Nielsen arrived in Canada and settled in Saskatchewan in 1927 to work as a teacher and married a homesteader the same year.

Political career[edit]

She joined the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation in 1934 and was a CCF campaign manager during the 1938 provincial election. By 1937, she joined the Communist Party of Canada but did not disclose her membership until 1943 remaining a member of the CCF until her riding association was dissolved because of its support of a popular front campaign with the Communists.[1]

She was the first member of the Communist Party of Canada to be elected to the Canadian House of Commons,[1] serving during World War II. She was the third woman elected to Canadian Parliament and the first to still be raising young children while holding political office. She won a seat in the 1940 federal election representing the Saskatchewan riding of North Battleford on the "United Progressives" label, beating the Liberal candidate in a two-way race.[2] Canada banned the Communist Party in June 1940 due to the party's opposition to the war.[3] Nielsen, through indirect contact with Montreal-based Communist leaders who had escaped imprisonment, became a spokeswoman for the Communist Party through speeches made in the House of Commons.[1][4]

When the Labor-Progressive Party was officially formed in 1943 as a legal front for the still banned Communist Party, Nielsen declared her affiliation with the party and was elected to its national executive committee.[5] She ran for re-election in the 1945 election for the Labor-Progressive Party (the name the Communist Party would use until 1959), but came in third behind the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation and Liberal candidates with 13% of the vote.[6]

She ran again in the 1953 election, this time in Brantford, Ontario, but came in last place with 216 votes.

After politics[edit]

In 1957, Nielsen left Canada for the People's Republic of China, where she lived until her death, working most of that time as an editor for the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing.


Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Cameron Ross McIntosh
Member of Parliament for North Battleford
Succeeded by
Frederick Townley-Smith