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Feature

Alexa McDonough and the cost of blazing trails

By Chelsea Nash      

Alexa McDonough, who died on Jan. 15 at the age of 77, was the second woman to lead the federal NDP from 1995 through 2006; a time, her former colleagues recall, in which women in politics faced much sexism. Her former press secretary Karl Bélanger wrote in L'Actualité that McDonough's importance has been underrated in Canadian politics.

Alexa McDonough, seated, surrounded by the NDP women's caucus in 2006. Top row from left: Denise Savoie (Victoria), Judy Wasylycia-Leis (Winnipeg North), Alexa McDonough (Halifax), Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Peggy Nash (Parkdale-High Park), Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe). Middle row, from left: Catherine J. Bell (Vancouver Island North), Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain), Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan). Bottom, from left: Olivia Chow (Trinity-Spadina), Dawn Black (New Westminster-Coquitlam), and Penny Priddy (Surrey North). Photograph courtesy of Judy Wasylycia-Leis.

Trailblazing isn’t easy, but those who knew her say Alexa McDonough had the character and resilience to do it with grace, earnestness, and always a sense of humour. 

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