Flora MacDonald (politician)
P.C., C.C., O.Ont.. O.N.S.
|Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Kingston and the Islands
|Preceded by||Edgar Benson|
|Succeeded by||Peter Milliken|
|Born||Flora Isabel MacDonald
June 3, 1926
North Sydney, Nova Scotia
|Political party||Progressive Conservative|
Life and career
MacDonald was born in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, the daughter of Mary Isabel Royle and George Frederick MacDonald. She has Scottish ancestry. She worked in administration for the Progressive Conservative Party for several years, prior to becoming involved in electoral politics.
In 1959, she was working as a secretary in the office of Prime Minister of Canada John Diefenbaker. She was first elected to the House of Commons in the 1972 general election as the Progressive Conservative Member of Parliament for the riding of Kingston and the Islands. She remained in parliament until her defeat in the 1988 election.
At the 1976 PC leadership convention, she became the first woman to mount a serious campaign for the leadership of one of Canada's two major governing parties. In this, she had been preceded by Rosemary Brown who ran in 1975 for the leadership of the New Democratic Party, and by Mary Walker-Sawka, who won two votes at the PC leadership convention in 1967.
MacDonald fared worse than expected, winning just 214 votes on the first ballot despite having over 300 pledged delegates in her camp. This led pundits to coin the phrase the Flora Syndrome for the phenomenon of a female politician's promised support failing to materialise. It was thought that this was a result of sexism: delegates liked the candidate but in the end could not bring themselves to vote for her because she was a woman. MacDonald dropped off after the second ballot, and encouraged her supporters to vote for Joe Clark, the eventual winner.
Clark and MacDonald, both Red Tories, became allies throughout their careers. When Clark became Prime Minister of Canada in 1979, he made MacDonald the first female Secretary of State for External Affairs in Canadian history, and one of the first female foreign ministers anywhere in the world. MacDonald, in turn, supported Clark at the 1983 leadership convention, where he lost to Brian Mulroney.
MacDonald returned to government after the PC victory in the 1984 federal election, serving first as Minister of Employment and Immigration, and then as Minister of Communications under Prime Minister Mulroney.
Since losing her seat in 1988, MacDonald has devoted her time to international humanitarian work. She served as president of the World Federalist Movement - Canada. In 2003, she briefly re-entered the political scene to oppose the merger of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and the Canadian Alliance, but was unable to prevent the folding of the PCs into the new Conservative Party of Canada. According to journalist Thomas Walkom, she voted for the New Democratic Party in the 2004 federal election.
- Kingston's prominent 400-boat harbour in front of City Hall is named the Flora MacDonald Confederation Basin in her honour.
- Appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 1992.
- Promoted to Companion of the Order of Canada in 1998.
- Recipient of the Pearson Medal of Peace in 1999.
- Awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws for her role as parliamentarian and humanitarian by Memorial University of Newfoundland in 2003.
- Awarded the Padma Shri, a civilian award, by the Government of India in 2004.
- Peter Raymont made a National Film Board documentary of her 1976 leadership bid, entitled Flora.
- Made a Member of the Order of Nova Scotia in 2007.
- St. Andrew's Society of Toronto Scot of the Year Award, 2009.
- Recipient of the Canada World Peace Award, awarded by the World Federalist Movement-Canada, October 2010.
- Received the Order of Ontario in 1995.
- Advisory Council member of the Dancer Transition Resource Centre.
- Bradley effect, Shy Tory Factor, and spiral of silence, for similar phenomena to the "Flora Syndrome"
- MacDonald, as Secretary of State for External Affairs, appears in archival footage in the movie Argo, about the Canadian-assisted escape of six U.S. diplomats from Iran in 1980.
- Jordan Press. "Quebec will vote Conservative, even if Harper doesn't believe it, retiring senator says," Postmedia News, July 17, 2012. Accessed July 19, 2012.
- Jane Arscott and Linda Trimble (2002-12-20). "Where have all the women leaders gone?". University of Alberta ExpressNews.
- World Federalist Movement - Canada, World-View page accessed June 7, 2006 Archived August 23, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Walkom, Thomas (2005-11-12). "Still feeling jilted after right-wing marriage:Many unhappy with PC-Alliance union". Toronto Star.
- "Order of Canada citation".
- Memorial University names honorary degree recipients for 2003 spring convocation, April 9, 2003
- "Peter Raymont".
- Flora MacDonald (politician) – Parliament of Canada biography
- Flora's mission CBC News slideshow on Flora MacDonald's work in Afghanistan.