Ed Broadbent: From Oshawa to Ottawa
As leader of the NDP, Ed Broadbent was a democratic socialist who loved to smoke cigars and drive fast cars. Broadbent led his party through contentious constitutional debates and weathered a western revolt before capturing the party's biggest seat count ever in 1988. After 14 years and four elections he resigned the leadership and became a human rights advocate, and in 2004 he made a political comeback to sit in Parliament once more.
• Percy Broadbent worked as a grocery wholesaler, but by 1950 he lost his job due to alcoholism. A family friend stepped in to give him a job as a clerk at General Motors, Oshawa's main employer.
• Alcoholism also affected Percy's relationship with Ed, who looked to his boy scout leader as a role model instead.
• Ed Broadbent had a much closer relationship with his mother, who was a devoted parent.
• Broadbent attended Oshawa's Central Collegiate where he was named the school's most
outstanding student four years in a row.
• An easygoing kid, tall and skinny with a gap-toothed grin, Broadbent was also popular among his peers. He was elected president of the student council in Grade 11 and was class valedictorian in Grade 13.
• Broadbent earned money for university by working after school in a men's clothing store and with a paper route. His success at signing up new subscriptions earned him several trips to Buffalo, N.Y.
• As part of the Rotary Club's Adventure in Citizenship project, Broadbent was awarded a trip to Ottawa. There he met and posed for a photograph with Oshawa MP Mike Starr (seen in this clip), who Broadbent would later defeat in his first run for Parliament.
• In 1955 Broadbent set off for post-secondary studies at Trinity College at the University of Toronto. He studied philosophy, excelling in all his classes and winning the admiration of his professors.
• Broadbent gained an education off campus as well, taking in theatre, exploring jazz clubs and seeing opera singer Maria Callas perform at Maple Leaf Gardens - "one of the great moments of my life," he would later remember.
• Broadbent funded his tuition in part through the University Reserve Training Plan. In return for attending military training sessions, he was guaranteed annual summer jobs in the air force.
• Broadbent lived in a campus co-op and was its president by his third year. In return for cheap lodgings, co-op members worked four hours a week to run the residences.
• It was through lively discussions at the co-op, says Broadbent, that his personal philosophy shifted towards socialism.
• After completing his bachelor's degree in 1959 and his master's degree in 1961, Broadbent spent a year at the London School of Economics in 1962-63. He completed his PhD in 1966; his thesis was about the 19th century political philosopher John Stuart Mill.
• Broadbent married Yvonne Yamaoka, a Japanese-Canadian town planner, in 1961. The marriage ended six years later.
• In 1961 Broadbent joined the New Democratic Party, which was formed that year as a merger of the Canadian Commonwealth Federation (CCF) and the Canadian Labour Congress.
• The following year there was a federal election, and Broadbent volunteered for the NDP candidate campaigning in the Toronto riding of Rosedale.
• Broadbent began teaching political science at Toronto's York University in 1965. (Source: Ed Broadbent: The Pursuit of Power, Judy Steed, 1988)
Program: The Journal
Broadcast Date: March 17, 1988
Guest(s): Ed Broadbent
Reporter: Bruce Yaccato
Last updated: November 10, 2014
Page consulted on November 10, 2014
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