Flora MacDonald (politician)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Honourable
Flora MacDonald
P.C., C.C., O.Ont.. O.N.S.
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Kingston and the Islands
In office
Preceded by Edgar Benson
Succeeded by Peter Milliken
Personal details
Born Flora Isabel MacDonald
(1926-06-03) June 3, 1926 (age 89)
North Sydney, Nova Scotia
Political party Progressive Conservative
Profession Politician

Flora Isabel MacDonald, PC CC OOnt ONS (born June 3, 1926) is a Canadian politician.

Life and career[edit]

MacDonald was born in North Sydney, Nova Scotia, the daughter of Mary Isabel Royle and George Frederick MacDonald. She has Scottish ancestry.[1] 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.[2] 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[3] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

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).[4] 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.[5]


See also[edit]

  • 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.


  1. ^ McDonell, J.K.; Campbell, R.B. (1997). Lords of the North. General Store Publishing House. p. 271. ISBN 9781896182711. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ Jane Arscott and Linda Trimble (2002-12-20). "Where have all the women leaders gone?". University of AlbertaExpressNews. 
  4. ^ World Federalist Movement - Canada, World-View page accessed June 7, 2006 Archived August 23, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Walkom, Thomas (2005-11-12). "Still feeling jilted after right-wing marriage:Many unhappy with PC-Alliance union". Toronto Star. 
  6. ^ "Order of Canada citation". 
  7. ^ Memorial University names honorary degree recipients for 2003 spring convocation, April 9, 2003
  8. ^ "Peter Raymont". 
  9. ^ "Recipients—2007". 
  10. ^ "WORLD FEDERALIST MOVEMENT-CANADA". worldfederalistscanada.org. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Dancer Transition Resource Centre". dtrc.ca. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 

External links[edit]