Alexa Ann McDonough, the former leader of the NDP passed away on January 15th.
McDonough was the leader of the NDP from 1995 to 2003. Prior to entering federal politics she was the leader of the Nova Scotia NDP for 14 years.
The outpouring of grief and support for the former NDP leader.
Current NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh posted, "Alexa Mcdonough was the first woman to lead a major political party in Canada. She dedicated her life to social justice, championed women in politics, and never backed down from a challenge. We'll miss her dearly. Rest in power Alexa."
Megan Leslie, the MP who took over from McDonough after her departure from federal politics in 2008 in the riding in Halifax, said via social meida, "This is how I will always remember her: creating space for new people and diverse perspectives while at the same time letting them lead in their own way. She did this for me when I succeeded her as the MP for Halifax, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful."
Condolences from across party lines poured in as well.
Calgary Nose-Hill Michelle Rempel Garner said that McDonough's place help create spaces for politicans like her, "I was born the year Alexa became the first woman to lead a major political party in Canada. I was 15 when she became leader of the federal NDP. She showed a generation of women like me that we have a place in politics. My condolences to the entire
Former Conservative MP Peter MacKay tweeted, "We lament the loss of Alexa McDonough. Proud Nova Scotian,trailblazer, 1st woman 2 lead Prov + Fed party. Dear friend of my mum. While we X'd swords @ times, we worked together on disability + workplace safety + NS issues. Admired, respected. Condolences Travis, Justin + family."
Minister of National Defence Anita Anand released a statement saying, "I am deeply saddened by Alexa McDonough’s passing. She was an icon when I was growing up in Nova Scotia, and showed me that strong women have a role in our politics. As a young girl, I watched her with admiration & was incredibly inspired by her leadership. May she rest in peace."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement, "The passing of Alexa McDonough is an extraordinary loss for our country. The impact she had, history she made, and barriers she broke for women cannot be overstated. My thoughts are with her family, friends, colleagues, and all who were inspired by her lifetime of public service."
She entered federal politics in 1995 with the NDP leadership beating British Columbia MP Svend Robinson, and Saskatchewan MP Lorne Nystrom. She finished second on the first ballot, but was acclaimed on the second ballot after frontrunner Svend Robinson dropped off the ballot when Lorne Nystrom supporters were more likely to go to McDonough than Robinson.
Her health had been an issue for more than a decade. She was treated for breast cancer and was later diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Through it all she was surrounded and aided by her family and closest friends, some of whom were political allies and close confidants.