Nancy Ruth

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The Honourable
Nancy Ruth
Senator for Cluny, Ontario
Assumed office
March 24, 2005
Appointed by Paul Martin
Personal details
Born Nancy Ruth Rowell Jackman
(1942-01-06) January 6, 1942 (age 72)
Toronto, Ontario
Political party Conservative
Religion United[1]

Nancy Ruth, CM (born January 6, 1942) is a Canadian Senator from Ontario. She was appointed to the Senate by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, on the advice of Prime Minister Paul Martin, on March 24, 2005. While initially appointed as a Progressive Conservative, on March 28, 2006 she joined the Conservative caucus. She is Canada's first openly lesbian senator.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Nancy Ruth was born in Toronto, Ontario, and is an alumna of Branksome Hall. Before being appointed to the Senate, Nancy Ruth was a social activist and philanthropist. She founded several women's organizations in Canada, including the Women's Legal Education and Action Fund, the Canadian Women's Foundation and a women's studies chair at Mount Saint Vincent University. She has also been a noted benefactor of hospitals and art galleries throughout Canada, and was named a member of the Order of Canada in 1994.

She has long battled for women's constitutional rights and thus opposed the Charlottetown Accord in 1992. She is also a vocal opponent of pornography. Her support for tougher child pornography laws made her a controversial figure amongst other gay rights activists, who saw the legislation as dangerously ambiguous in its definitions and broad in scope.

She was born Nancy Ruth (Rowell) Jackman, and is the sister of former Lieutenant Governor of Ontario Hal Jackman, the daughter of former Member of Parliament Harry Jackman and the granddaughter of former MP and Ontario Liberal Party leader Newton Rowell. She changed her name in the mid-1990s; she does not use "Ruth" as a last name, instead using both her names as given names with no last name, and therefore prefers to be known as "Senator Nancy Ruth" instead of "Senator Ruth." [3] She is alphabetized under "N," not "R", on the Senate website.[4]

A Red Tory, Nancy Ruth campaigned for the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario on two occasions in the early 1990s, when she was known as Nancy Jackman. The first was in the 1990 provincial election, when she lost to New Democratic Party candidate Zanana Akande by fewer than 1,000 votes in the riding of St. Andrew—St. Patrick. On April 1, 1993, she lost to Liberal Tim Murphy by over 2,000 votes in a by-election held in St. George—St. David.

Nancy Ruth crossed party lines to endorse Kathleen Wynne in her bid to win the leadership of the Ontario Liberal Party in 2013; Ruth donated $10,000 to the Liberal MPP's campaign.[5]

Rewording Canadian national anthem[edit]

In 2010, Nancy Ruth took credit for the Throne Speech's including a proposal to study changing the line of "O Canada" from "all thy sons command" to "thou dost in us command", the original wording. Intense public backlash caused the Prime Minister's Office to announce the issue had been dropped from consideration.[6]

Comments to women's equality rights groups[edit]

Nancy Ruth sparked controversy on May 3, 2010, with comments she made during a meeting with women's equality rights groups on Parliament Hill. The groups were among many who had leveled criticisms at the Conservative government for maintaining their refusal to include funding for abortions in their maternal health plan for the G8, even after finally agreeing to include family planning measures such as contraception. Nancy Ruth fired back at the groups, telling them, "We've got five weeks or whatever left until the G8 starts. Shut the fuck up on this issue," she said. "If you push it, there'll be more backlash. This is now a political football. This is not about women's health in this country". Nancy Ruth also said, "Canada is still a country with free and accessible abortion. Leave it there. Don't make this an election issue."[7]

The next day the Conservative government cut funding to 11 women's groups, some of which support abortion as part of the G8 maternal health initiative.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Canadian senators warn United Church over Israel boycott". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). July 4, 2012. 
  2. ^ Thompson, Ben (March 24, 2005). "Lesbian Feminist Named To Canada's Senate" ( Scholar search). Archived from the original on 2005-03-27. Retrieved 2007-10-30. 
  3. ^ Raphael, Mitchel. "Mitchel Raphael on why the speaker of the house didn't recognize a ‘great Canadian’." Maclean's, May 20, 2010.
  4. ^ Senate of Canada
  5. ^ MacKrael, Kim (January 2, 2013). "Conservative senator backs Kathleen Wynne for Ontario Liberal leader". Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved January 2, 2013. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ "CBC News - Politics - Ruth's abortion comment 'intimidation': MPs". May 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 
  8. ^ "What’s behind ‘shut the f--- up’ -". Toronto: May 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-05. 

External links[edit]