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Judy LaMarsh on women in politics

"Let's not worry about whether the man in the street will vote for a woman, will you vote for me?" It was 1960, and Judy LaMarsh was seeking the Liberal nomination in her hometown of Niagara Falls, Ont. She won it, and the subsequent byelection, and went on to become a prominent member in the cabinet of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. But by 1968 the lifelong lure of politics paled for her and LaMarsh stepped out of the game. In this 1969 interview from CBC-TV's Take 30, LaMarsh tells host Adrienne Clarkson about her latest endeavour: a book called Memoirs of a Bird in a Gilded Cage.
• Julia (Judy) LaMarsh was born in Chatham, Ont. in 1924. After high school she applied to the Women's Division of the Canadian Air Force, but was denied due to poor eyesight. She attended teachers college for a year before joining the Canadian Women's Army Corps in 1943, serving for three years in Halifax, Vancouver and the United States.

• Upon her return, LaMarsh attended the University of Toronto and Osgoode Hall while also becoming heavily involved with the Youth and Ontario wings of the Liberal Party. Back in Niagara Falls, she was building the law practice she shared with her father when he died in 1957. In 1960 a federal seat opened up when the MP for Niagara Falls died, and LaMarsh sought the nomination.  

• In 1963, after Lester B. Pearson won a minority government, he named LaMarsh Minister of Health and Welfare. She was later named Secretary of State and as such oversaw the country's Centennial celebrations in 1967.

• LaMarsh quit politics in 1968 and went on to a career as a broadcaster (her radio program Judy aired on CBC daily for the 1975-76 season). She chaired a 1975 Ontario inquiry into violence on television and continued to write books and a newspaper column.

• On Oct. 27, 1980, Judy LaMarsh died of cancer. She had been awarded the Order of Canada five days earlier in a special ceremony in her hospital room.

Medium: Television
Broadcast Date: Jan. 20, 1969
Program: Take 30
Hosts: Paul Soles, Adrienne Clarkson
Guest: Judy LaMarsh
Duration: 16:00

Last updated: November 19, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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