McLaughlin at the 2012 NDP leadership convention
|Leader of the New Democratic Party|
December 5, 1989 – October 14, 1995
|Preceded by||Ed Broadbent|
|Succeeded by||Alexa McDonough|
|Member of Parliament
July 20, 1987 – June 2, 1997
|Preceded by||Erik Nielsen|
|Succeeded by||Louise Hardy|
|Born||Audrey Marlene Brown
November 7, 1936
Dutton, Ontario, Canada
|Political party||New Democratic Party|
|Spouse(s)||Don McLaughlin (m. 1954; div. 1972)|
|Alma mater||MacDonald Institute|
|Occupation||Author, business consultant, researcher, social worker, teacher|
Audrey Marlene McLaughlin, OC PC (née Brown; born November 8, 1936) was leader of Canada's New Democratic Party (NDP) from 1989 to 1995. She was the first female leader of a political party with representation in the Canadian House of Commons, as well as the first female federal political party leader to represent an electoral district in a Canadian territory.
Life and career
McLaughlin was born as Audrey Marlene Brown in Dutton, Ontario, the daughter of Margaret Clark and William Brown, of Scottish and English descent. She worked as a social worker in Toronto, Ontario and in Ghana. In 1955, she graduated with a Diploma in Home Science from the MacDonald Institute (later a founding college of the University of Guelph ). In 1979, McLaughlin moved to Yukon and set up a consultancy business. In 1987, she ran in a by-election and won, the first federal NDP candidate to win in Yukon. In 1988, she was appointed caucus chair, and in 1989, she won the NDP 1989 leadership convention, replacing the retiring Ed Broadbent.
McLaughlin had taken over the NDP during the height of its popularity. However, the party began a steady decline in the polls for several reasons. One was the NDP's provincial affiliates in British Columbia and Ontario, whose unpopularity in government reflected badly on the federal party. The rise of the Reform Party also sapped much NDP support in Western Canada. In the 1993 election, the NDP lost badly, and was cut down from 44 seats to only nine in Parliament. More than half of its losses came in Ontario (where it lost all 10 of its MPs) and British Columbia (where it lost all but two of its 19 MPs).
In 1991, she was sworn in as a member of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada so that she could access classified documents during the Gulf War. In August 2003, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
She published an autobiography, A Woman's Place: My Life and Politics, in 1992.
In 2000, she joined the National Democratic Institute, an organization that promotes democracy and peace in developing nations and travelled to Kosovo to help women there to run in the country's first democratic election. McLaughlin has also served as the President of the Socialist International Women and as special representative for the Government of the Yukon on Circumpolar Affairs. She was an honorary pallbearer at the state funeral of Jack Layton in 2011.