National Newswatch
National Opinion Centre

The voice of a pioneering Canadian woman was first heard in the House of Commons on this date in 1963. Pauline Jewett had just been elected as a Liberal MP when she took to her feet in the Commons on May 17, 1963. She was participating in the debate on the new Pearson government’s Speech from the Throne. In doing so, she heaped praise on her party’s leader, Lester B. Pearson.

“I do feel, and feel very strongly, that in this party we have in our leader, the new Prime Minister of Canada, the kinds of qualities of leadership that we need today,” she told the House. “He is himself a man with purpose, a man who has a sense of direction. Perhaps a sense of purpose, a sense of direction, is as important as anything else. It is particularly important when we are going to have to break so many new fields of endeavour, when we are going to have to cast off old habits and ways of doing things in this country. Our Prime Minister himself wants to and will pursue policies which will, I believe, enable us to live a better and fuller life.”

Jewitt, who would go on to become the first Canadian woman to head a university (she was President of Simon Fraser University), served only one term as a Liberal MP before her defeat in the 1965 election. She later quit the Liberal party after Pierre Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act in 1970 and joined the NDP. In 1979 she was elected a NDP MP and was re-elected in 1984 and 1988. She was later invested a member of the Order of Canada. In 1992, Jewett was named to the Privy Council by Tory PM Brian Mulroney.

Arthur Milnes is an accomplished public historian and award-winning journalist.  He was research assistant on The Rt. Hon. Brian Mulroney’s best-selling Memoirs and also served as a speechwriter to then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper and as a Fellow of the Queen’s Centre for the Study of Democracy under the leadership of Tom Axworthy.  A resident of Kingston, Ontario, Milnes serves as the in-house historian at the 175 year-old Frontenac Club Hotel.
The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on National Newswatch are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.
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