From the House - Week of August 17 to 24, 2012 - Did You Know? 2.0

August 16th, 2012 - 8:08pm

This week presents another opportunity to share some of the hard work of the New Democrat caucus research team who are always busy discovering new and interesting things about our federal government and our party.  

Did you know that since Confederation, 4,202 Canadians have been elected to the House of Commons? Of those members of Parliament, some remained in the House for a rather short period of time, while others were there for several decades.

The record for the longest service as an MP—44 years—is held by Wilfrid Laurier, Canada’s 7th—and first Francophone—prime minister. That record is close to five times longer than the average number of years of service for all elected members since 1867, which is 8 years, 5 months and 19 days.  At the other end of the spectrum, the record for the shortest mandate goes to John Dahmer, who died just five days after winning his seat of Beaver River (AB) in the 1988 general election. 

As for New Democrats, Lorne Nystrom was our longest serving Member of Parliament. Mr. Nystrom, who sat in the House of Commons for 32 years, 4 months and 27 days, was the MP for the riding of Yorkton—Melville in Saskatchewan from 1968 to 1993, and for the riding of Regina—Qu'Appelle, also in Saskatchewan, from 1997 to 2004. When he was first elected in 1968, he was the youngest MP to be elected to the House of Commons.

The current average number of years of service for all of the 306 MPs in the House is 5 years, 9 months and 12 days. Among current New Democrat MPs, Libby Davies, Yvon Godin, Pat Martin and Peter Stoffer have served the longest with 15 years of service. They were all elected in the 1997 general election.

Staying with the NDP, did you know that we were the first party to elect a woman as leader, at both the federal and provincial levels?  At the provincial level, Alexa McDonough was chosen to lead the Nova Scotia NDP on November 16, 1980, becoming the first female leader of a recognized political party, and remained in that role until 1994.  Federally, Audrey McLaughlin became the first women to lead a recognized federal party in North America when she became NDP leader on December 4, 1989. Ms. McLaughlin was Leader of the federal NDP until April 1994 and stayed on as acting leader until October 1995 when she was succeeded by Ms. McDonough.

When Ms. McLaughlin became leader, she succeeded Ed Broadbent, who continues to hold our party’s record for longest serving leader.  Mr. Broadbent led the NDP for over 14 years, from July 1975 to December 1989. Under Ed’s leadership, the party elected 43 New Democrats to sit in the House of Commons, which was the most until last year’s election when we hit the 102 MP mark. 

Getting back to the great firsts for women in the history of the New Democratic Party, few people know that Winona Grace MacInnis was the first woman elected under the New Democrat banner.  Ms. MacInnis was elected in the general election of 1965 in the constituency of Vancouver–Kingsway.   She was re-elected in the following two elections. Moreover, Ms. MacInnis was the only woman to sit in the House of Commons during the 28th Parliament.

One woman and 274 men!  Yikes.  Well, I guess you could say the times sure have change, but if I were betting man I would put a wager on it changing a lot more, and that my friends is a very good thing.