Audrey McLaughlin

In 1979 Audrey McLaughlin headed to the Yukon looking for adventure. In 1987 she became the first New Democrat to represent the Yukon in the House of Commons, and when she was elected leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada in 1989, she became the first woman leader of a Canadian federal political party.

Federal NDP Leader



November 7, 1936, in Dutton, Ontario


  • BA - University of Western Ontario
  • MA - Social Work - University of Toronto


Audrey McLaughlin has had a varied career as a mink rancher, author, business consultant, researcher, social worker, teacher, as well as a politician.

Political Affiliation



Audrey McLaughlin Career Highlights

  • At 18, Audrey Brown married Don McLaughlin, a mink rancher. The couple had two children and divorced in 1972. In 1979, Audrey McLaughlin bought a truck and headed for the Yukon looking for adventure.
  • Audrey McLaughlin started a consulting business in the Yukon, working on projects including child welfare legislation and research on land claims and aboriginal self-government.
  • Audrey McLaughlin was first elected to the House of Commons in a by-election in 1987.
  • She served as NDP critic for Northern Development, Tourism, the Constitution and Revenue Canada.
  • Audrey McLaughlin voted against ratification of the Meech Lake Accord, which she felt would hurt the interests of women and northern Aboriginal people.
  • She became Chair of the NDP caucus in 1988.
  • Audrey McLaughlin was elected leader of the New Democratic Party in 1989. becoming the first woman to lead a national Canadian political party.
  • In the 1993 general election, the New Democratic Party lost its official party status when it won only nine seats in the House of Commons. In 1994, Audrey McLaughlin announced that she would step down as NDP leader. She stayed as interim leader until Alexa McDonough was elected at the NDP convention in 1995.
  • Audrey McLaughlin remained a member of parliament until 1997.
  • After her retirement as NDP Leader, Audrey McLaughlin served as President of the Socialist International Women and special representative for the Government of the Yukon on Circumpolar Affairs.

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