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Audrey Marlene McLaughlin OC PC (née Brown; born November 8, 1936) is a Canadian politician and former leader of the New Democratic Party from 1989 to 1995. She was the first female leader of a political party with representation in the House of Commons of Canada, as well as the first female federal political party leader to represent an electoral district in a Canadian territory.

Audrey McLaughlin

AudreyMcLaughlin2012 1.png
Leader of the New Democratic Party
In office
December 5, 1989 – October 14, 1995
Preceded byEd Broadbent
Succeeded byAlexa McDonough
Member of Parliament
for Yukon
In office
July 20, 1987 – June 2, 1997
Preceded byErik Nielsen
Succeeded byLouise Hardy
Personal details
Audrey Marlene Brown

(1936-11-07) November 7, 1936 (age 82)
Dutton, Ontario, Canada
Political partyNew Democratic Party
Don McLaughlin
(m. 1954; div. 1972)
Alma materMacDonald Institute
OccupationAuthor, business consultant, researcher, social worker, teacher

Life and careerEdit

McLaughlin was born Audrey Marlene Brown in Dutton, Ontario, the daughter of Margaret Clark and William Brown, of Scottish and English descent.[1] 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 went from 44 seats to only 9 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 17 of its 19 MPs.

McLaughlin won her seat in the Yukon but resigned as leader and was succeeded by Alexa McDonough in 1995. McLaughlin did not run for re-election in the 1997 election.

McLaughlin was an overseas volunteer in Barbados in 1986 with Canadian Crossroads International. Today, she is an honorary patron with Crossroads.

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.

Post-political careerEdit

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.[2] 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.[3] She was an honorary pallbearer at the state funeral of Jack Layton in 2011.


  1. ^ Joyce Hayden, Yukon's Women of Power. Windwalker Press, 1999. ISBN 0968626602.[1]
  2. ^ "The Portico". University of Guelph. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  3. ^ "Our History". New Democratic Party of Canada. Archived from the original on May 27, 2010. Retrieved June 1, 2010.

External linksEdit