Judy Darcy

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Judy Darcy

Judy Darcy.jpg
Darcy protesting outside a Conservative Party fundraiser in Toronto in 2003
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
Assumed office
July 18, 2017
PremierJohn Horgan
Preceded byPosition established
Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly
for New Westminster
Assumed office
May 14, 2013
Preceded byDawn Black
Secretary-Business Manager of the Hospital Employees' Union
In office
Succeeded byBonnie Pearson
4th National President of the Canadian Union of Public Employees
In office
Preceded byJeff Rose
Succeeded byPaul Moist
National Secretary-Treasurer of the Canadian Union of Public Employees
In office
Personal details
Ida Maria Judith Borunsky

1950 (age 68–69)
Political partyNew Democratic Party (1985–present)
Other political
Workers' Communist Party of Canada (before 1985)
Alma materYork University

Judy Darcy MLA (born 1950) is a Canadian health care advocate, trade unionist, and politician.[1] Darcy is Minister of Mental Health and Addictions of British Columbia. She was president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees from 1991 until 2003[2] and business manager of the Hospital Employees' Union from 2005 to 2011.

Darcy was elected to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in the 2013 election, as a BC NDP candidate for the provincial constituency of New Westminster.[3]

Early life[edit]

Darcy was born Ida Maria Judith Borunsky in Denmark and came to Canada with her parents when she was 18 months old. Her father was a research chemist who was a shipping clerk for years until he could re-establish his credentials in Canada and resume work in his profession.[4]

Her father, Jules (Youli) Simonovich Borunsky, was a Russian Jew whose family had moved to France following the Russian Revolution. Borunsky's first wife was a French Catholic woman. During the war he enlisted in the French Army and was taken prisoner during the Battle of Dunkirk. During his detention as a Prisoner of war, he survived and avoided deportation to a concentration camp by hiding his Jewishness and pretending to be a devout Catholic, including Catholic references and symbols in his letters to his wife as part of the ruse. With Paris occupied by the Nazis, Borunsky convinced his father that it would be safer for him to join the rest of the family in Kovno, Lithuania. However, four days after he arrived, the town was invaded by the Nazis. Einsatzgruppen murdered most of the Jewish population, presumably including Borunsky's father, sister, her husband and their daughter. According to Darcy, her father "carried tremendous guilt, [t]he guilt of having survived when others died and the guilt of having sent his father to his death." Borunsky's first wife died of illness around the end of the war. Borunsky, after being liberated, worked as deputy director of a United Nations Refugee Agency displaced persons camp where he met Else Margrethe Rich, a veteran of the Danish resistance movement who found work on the staff of the camp after the war. Traumatized by the war and the loss of his family, and afraid of further anti-Semitic oppression, Borunsky continued to hide his Jewishness from everyone except for his wife until later life.[5]

Borunsky and Rich married and moved to Denmark where Darcy was born in 1950. Darcy and her sister and brother were all baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church but were not raised in any faith. The family emigrated to Canada in 1951, and settled in Sarnia where Borunsky found work in the petrochemical industry. When she was 8, her parents changed the family's name to Darcy as her father wanted a French sounding name. After his retirement, her father started attending Holy Blossom Synagogue and the Bernard Betel Centre for Creative Living in order to rekindle his Jewish roots and gradually revealed his story to his children.

Darcy was raised in Sarnia, and moved to Toronto to study political science at York University but quit after 1½ years,[4] but not before infiltrating and disrupting the Miss Canadian University Pageant yelling "It's true it's a meat market and they do exploit women!" as the winner was announced.[6] After travelling and doing odd jobs, she became a University of Toronto library clerk in 1972 and became active in CUPE.[4][7]

Union activism[edit]

In her youth, Darcy was active with the Workers' Communist Party of Canada,[8] a Maoist group, and was a candidate for the party in the 1981 Ontario provincial election in the Toronto riding of St. Andrew—St. Patrick.[9] By 1985, she had left the party and joined the New Democratic Party saying of her earlier radicalism ""I'm older, I don't think we're going to remake the world, but we've got to change what we can."[10]

In 1983, she became a regional vice-president of the union's Ontario division and was also working at the Metropolitan Toronto Reference Library.[4]

By the mid-1980s, she was president of the Metro Toronto Council of CUPE.[11]

In 1986, she ran for the position of Ontario president of CUPE challenging 10-year incumbent Lucie Nicholson.[7] She was unsuccessful,[12] losing by a margin of 318-240, her defeat blamed on a red-baiting campaign by the union's leadership. Darcy, however, did manage to retain a spot on the union's executive board topping the slate of "member at large" positions.[13]

By 1988, she was first vice-president of CUPE's Ontario division[14] as well as a vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Labour.[15] In 1989, she successfully ran for the position of national secretary-treasurer of CUPE,[16] the union's number two position. saying that said she stands for strong leadership to help CUPE cope with "some of the incredibly difficult challenges we'll see in the next few years, especially in light of free trade."[15]

In the 1988 federal election, Darcy was the NDP's candidate against Liberal Frank Stronach and Progressive Conservative John E. Cole in York—Simcoe[14] placing a "distant third"[17] in the suburban Toronto riding.[18]

In 1991, she was elected CUPE national president taking over the 406,000 member trade union.[19] By the time she retired 13 years later the union had grown to 525,000 members.[2]

Electoral record[edit]

2017 British Columbia general election: New Westminster
Party Candidate Votes %
New Democratic Judy Darcy 12,923 51.55
Green Jonina Campbell 6,358 25.36
Liberal Lorraine Brett 5,333 21.27
Social Credit James Crosty 280 1.12
Libertarian Rex Brocki 174 0.69
Total valid votes 25,068 100.00
Source: Elections BC[20]
2013 British Columbia general election: New Westminster
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Judy Darcy 13,170 48.84 −7.52 $126,704
Liberal Hector Bremner 8,997 33.37 −1.24 $56,036
Green Terry Teather 2,252 8.35 −0.68 $1,417
Conservative Paul Forseth 1,318 4.89 $1,450
Independent James Crosty 1,038 3.85 #3,530
Libertarian Lewis Dahlby 190 0.70 $250
Total valid votes 26,965 100.00
Total rejected ballots 132 0.49
Turnout 27,097 57.81
Source: Elections BC[21]

After CUPE[edit]

She moved to British Columbia subsequently and ran for the provincial British Columbia New Democratic Party nomination in Vancouver-Fairview but was upset by a businessman Gregor Robertson by a margin of 76 votes on the second ballot.[22]

In February 2005, Darcy returned to work in the trade union movement acquiring a position as secretary-business manager and chief negotiator[23] with British Columbia's Hospital Employees' Union.[24] She was known as being on the left of the union[10] and an advocate of issues such as employment equity[14] and childcare.[15] She resigned from this position in September 2011 in preparation for her candidacy in the 2013 BC provincial election in New Westminster.[25][26] She celebrated her election as New Westminster's Member of the Legislative Assembly at the Heritage Grill.[27] At this party, Darcy led attendees in chanting "NDP".[28]


  1. ^ Canadian, Press (5 August 2011). "Judy Darcy Seeks NDP Nomination". CBC News. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  2. ^ a b Judy Darcy quitting after 12 years as president of CUPE Archived 2007-12-18 at the Wayback Machine, National Union of Public and General Employees, February 27, 2003
  3. ^ Lau, Alfie (August 31, 2011). "Judy Darcy wins provincial NDP nomination for New Westminster". Royal City Record. Retrieved 12 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d Papp, Leslie, "Ex-clerk leads race for top union job", Toronto Star, October 9, 1991
  5. ^ http://www.jewishindependent.ca/mlas-father-hid-past/
  6. ^ Pratt, Sheila, "Pioneers of women's movement tell their stories," Edmonton Journal, April 17, 2005
  7. ^ a b Slotnick, Lorne, "CUPE leadership rivals battle over profile and role of union", Globe and Mail, May 21, 1986
  8. ^ List, Wilfred, "CUPE chief survives attack by workers", Globe and Mail, May 23, 1981
  9. ^ Spiers, Rosemary, "St. Andrew-St. Patrick profile How federal Liberals turn Tory blue in voting booths", Globe and Mail, March 13, 1981
  10. ^ a b Deverell, John, "2 women fight it out for top job with CUPE," Toronto Star, May 30, 1986
  11. ^ "End discrimination against office staff, funds hearing told," Globe and Mail, September 13, 1985
  12. ^ Deverell, John, "Metro challenger fails in bid to lead CUPE in Ontario", May 30, 1986
  13. ^ Slotnick, Lorne, "Challenge for presidency falls short Nicholson keeps CUPE post," Globe and Mail, May 31, 1986
  14. ^ a b c Todd, Rosemary, "CAMPAIGN '88 Voters 'don't think money talks' NDP sends CUPE official to fight Stronach," Globe and Mail, October 17, 1988
  15. ^ a b c "CUPE activist plans to seek No. 2 post," Globe and Mail, January 27, 1989
  16. ^ "GST EXPECTED TO BE TOP ISSUE AT ALBERTA CUPE CONVENTION," Canada Newswire, March 26, 1990
  17. ^ Duffy, Andrew, "Tory hands Stronach a stunning defeat," Toronto Star, November 22, 1988
  18. ^ History of federal ridings: York-Simcoe, Library of Parliament
  19. ^ Galt, Virginia, "Former radical new CUPE president Darcy wants to unleash lobbying potential of largest union in Canada", Globe and Mail, October 17, 1991
  20. ^ "2017 Provincial General Election Preliminary Voting Results". Elections BC. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Statement of Votes - 40th Provincial General Election" (PDF). Elections BC. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  22. ^ O'Brian, Amy, "NDP picks businessman over union leader", Vancouver Sun, November 8, 2004
  23. ^ Penner, Derrick, "Labour reserved: Unions skeptical about public-sector funding", Vancouver Sun, December 1, 2005
  24. ^ "Health workers' union turns to seasoned labour leader", Vancouver Sun, February 24, 2005
  25. ^ "Darcy to step down as HEU's chief negotiator to seek public office" (Press release). Hospital Employees' Union. September 8, 2011. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  26. ^ Smith, Charlie (September 8, 2011). "NDP candidate Judy Darcy steps down as Hospital Employees' Union chief negotiator". Georgia Straight. Vancouver, BC. Archived from the original on 2013-02-03. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
  27. ^ Grant Granger (May 14, 2013). "Darcy rolls to victory in New Westminster". New Westminster News Leader. Archived from the original on June 15, 2013. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
  28. ^ Theresa McManus (May 15, 2013). "Liberals take B.C. - NDP takes New West". The Record. Retrieved June 6, 2013.
British Columbia Provincial Government of John Horgan
Cabinet post (1)
Predecessor Office Successor
Ministry Established Minister of Mental Health and Addiction
July 18, 2017–