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Maureen McTeer and Catherine Clark

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Maureen McTeer and Catherine Clark

Catherine Clark and Maureen McTeer
Catherine Clark and Maureen McTeer

(CP Photo Johnathan Hayward)
 

The two women in Joe Clark's family are no shrinking violets.

Maureen McTeer was a strong-minded feminist who created a scandal by being the first prime minister's wife to have kept her own last name when she married. People wrote her demanding her marriage certificate, to make sure the person they were voting for wasn't "living in sin."

She studied law while her husband was prime minister, and she and her husband achieved a first for a prime ministerial family: they sent their daughter Catherine to day care. This of course sparked further reactions and accusations of Maureen abandoning her child, but Maureen said she felt Catherine was being spoiled by the staff at home, so she would be better off in professional care.

McTeer says many women felt for the first time "they were being offered the choice of an enlightened leader," who was not afraid to have a strong wife. She told Anna Maria Tremonti in March 2004, "Ironically, while the message was clearly a negative message: 'You can't control your wife'... You had this other group, a silent group, who … propelled him to power."

McTeer didn't fade into the background after her husband left power. In the 1988 federal election, she ran for the PCs in Ottawa, but lost. She also chaired a government commission on new reproductive technologies, and wrote four books about medical choices, as well as an autobiography In My Own Name Random House Canada (2003).

Catherine Clark

It wasn't until later that Clark's daughter became the stuff of headlines. Catherine campaigned with her father before the 2000 election. Her blond good looks generated a lot of press. The Toronto Sun newspaper ran a daily feature during the 2000 campaign, commenting on Catherine's outfits, most of which were quite conservative, naturally. Catherine is the Clarks' only child.


Click below for a look at some of the better-known family members of our most recent PMs:

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