Simma Holt

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Simma Holt
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Vancouver Kingsway
In office
1974–1979
Preceded by Grace MacInnis
Succeeded by Ian Waddell
Personal details
Born Simma Milner
(1922-03-27)March 27, 1922
Vegreville, Alberta
Died January 23, 2015(2015-01-23) (aged 92)
Burnaby, British Columbia
Nationality Canadian
Political party Liberal
Spouse(s) Leon Holt (died: 1985)
Residence Burnaby, British Columbia
Alma mater University of Manitoba
Occupation journalist

Simma Holt, CM (née Milner, March 27, 1922 – January 23, 2015) was a Canadian journalist, author, and the first Jewish woman elected to the Canadian House of Commons.[1]

Born in Vegreville, Alberta as Simma Milner, the sixth of eight children, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree, with majors in English and Psychology, in 1944 from the University of Manitoba. That same year she began a 30-year career at The Vancouver Sun newspaper as a reporter, feature writer, and columnist.

Journalism[edit]

Her interest in journalism began as a child when the sole operator of the Vegriville Observer would welcome her observing his production of the paper. Partly due to male students at the University of Manitoba participating in the Second World War, Holt became the first female managing editor of the student newspaper The Manitoban and university correspondent for the Winnipeg Free Press. On D-Day, her first day using the machine, Holt mistakenly clogged up the teletype machine at the Canadian Press in Calgary.[2]

A few months later, she started her career at The Vancouver Sun. At the start of Holt's journalism career, women were rarely employed as professional journalists. She gained reputation as a tough reporter by working in traditionally-male beats such as crime and waterfront reporting. Holt's style was seen as tough advocacy or crusading investigative journalism in potentially-controversial topics such as prostitution. Sexism incidents included coworkers handing her nude photos of women and being told by her editor she would be fired if she again snuck into the male-only Terminal Club to cover a story.[2]

During a 1970 strike by Sun employees, Holt was a labour negotiator and vice-president of the Newspaper Guild and actively worked for the Vancouver Express.[3] . In 1996, Holt was also inducted into the Canadian News Hall of Fame — the first female journalist in B.C. to receive the distinction.[1]

Politics[edit]

Local Senator Ray Perrault engaged Holt with Liberal leader Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Initially, she was critical of Trudeau and had written a story about his wife but became favourable to him after he was willing to accept her criticism.[2] In the 1974 election, Holt was elected to the Canadian House of Commons as the Liberal candidate for the British Columbia riding of Vancouver Kingsway. She was one of only two women representing British Columbia. She was defeated in the 1979 election and the 1980 election. She did not enjoy her leave of absence from journalism to sit in Parliament and face anti-Semitism and anti-feminism. She called Parliament a 'silly old boys' club' and a waste of time.[3]

Holt moved to Maple Falls Washington and temporarily worked for the campaign for US President George H. W. Bush.[1]

In 1981, Holt started a three-year term as a member of the National Parole Board.

In 2006, she publicly criticized Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan for seeking court order to remove lengthy protests by Falun Gong from outside the embassy of China on Granville Street.[1]

Recognition[edit]

In 1996, Holt was made a Member of the Order of Canada for her "lifetime commitment to assisting those suffering from injustice, persecution and poverty".[4]

Personal life[edit]

In 1949, she married Leon Holt. They remained together but childless until his death in 1985.

After purchasing what turned out to be one of Vancouver's notorious "leaky condos" in 1999, Holt waged a publicly vocal, seven-year legal action seeking financial compensation for repairs.[5]

After 2010, she lived her final years in the Seton Villa Seniors' Centre in Burnaby. She died at the age of 92 in January 2015.[1]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Terror in the Name of God: The Story of the Sons of Freedom Doukhobors (1964)
  • Sex and the Teen Age Revolution (1967)
  • The Devil's Butler (1972), drugs, hippies and murders by Satan's Angel's motorcycle gang
  • The Other Mrs. Diefenbaker (1982), a biography on Edna Diefenbaker.
  • Memoirs of a Loose Cannon (2008), personal memoirs

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Morton, Brian (24 January 2015). "Former Vancouver journalist, MP Simma Holt broke down newsroom barriers". The Vancouver Sun. 
  2. ^ a b c Chow, Wanda (Dec 11, 2011). "The amazing life of Simma Holt". Burnaby News-Leader. Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Biography of Simma Holt". umanitoba.ca. University of Manitoba. Retrieved 25 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Order of Canada citation
  5. ^ Simma Holt: Rosie the Riveter of Canadian Journalism, Grab News. Retrieved 2013-12-06

External links[edit]