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Ellen Fairclough

From Academic Kids

Image of Ellen Fairclough - credit: National Archives of Canada (PA#129254)

The Right Honourable Ellen Louks Fairclough PC,CC (January 28, 1905November 13, 2004) was the first female member of the Canadian Cabinet.

Fairclough, who was born in Hamilton, Ontario, was a chartered accountant by training, and ran an accounting firm prior to entering politics. She was a member of Hamilton City Council from 1945 to 1950.

She was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in a 1950 by-election after being defeated in the 1949 federal election. She then she represented Hamilton West for the Progressive Conservatives until she lost her seat in the 1963 election. As a Member of Parliament, she advocated women's rights including equal pay for equal work.

When the PC Party took power as a result of the 1957 federal election, new Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, appointed her to the position of Secretary of State for Canada. In 1958, she became Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and from 1962 until her defeat in 1963, she was Postmaster General. As Immigration Minister in 1962], Fairclough introduced new regulations that mostly eliminated racial discrimination in immigration policy. She also introduced a more liberal policy on refugees, and increased the number of immigrants allowed into Canada.

Fairclough was also the first female Acting Prime Minister of Canada from February 19 to February 20, 1958. In 1993, she nominated Kim Campbell for the Progressive Conservative Party leadership, after which Campbell became Canada's first woman prime minister.

In 1979, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and was promoted to Companion in 1994.

She was granted the rare honour of having the title Right Honourable bestowed upon her in 1992 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, one of very few people to have the title who had not been Prime Minister of Canada, Governor General, or Chief Justice of Canada. This was done, in part, because she had been Acting Prime Minister in the 1960s, the first woman to do so. In 1995, she published her memoirs, Saturday's Child: Memoirs of Canada's First Female Cabinet Minister.

She died in a Hamilton, Ontario nursing home on Saturday, November 13, 2004, just weeks before what would have been her 100th birthday.

Her husband Gordon and son Howard both predeceased her.

On June 21, 2005, Canada Post will issue a stamp in honour of Ellen Fairclough. [1] (http://www.rpsc.org/images/2005-0621.jpg)

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