Tuesday was the first Lincoln Alexander Day in Ontario. And soon, his widow hopes, it will be Linc Day across the country.
A bill proclaiming Jan. 21 Lincoln Alexander Day across Canada will likely be pushed through by a senator, said Marnie Alexander on Tuesday afternoon. She’d stopped by city hall to check out a book of condolences that commemorated Ontario’s first Lincoln Alexander Day.
She expects a national proclamation soon. “It’s just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other,” she said.
The province was unanimous in November in proclaiming Jan. 21 the first Lincoln Alexander Day. Late last year, Hamilton Mountain MP Chris Charlton, an NDP, attempted to use unanimous consent to introduce a national Linc Day. But some Conservative MPs blocked it.
The Conservative government wants to introduce it as a government bill, said Hamilton Centre MP David Christopherson, who signed the book alongside Marnie Alexander.
“Whatever,” he said. “The important thing is that we get a bill that establishes the day. If the government wants to get its own bill through rather than an opposition member, that’s fine.”
Born in 1922, Lincoln Alexander rose above the prejudice of the era and pursued an education. He moved to Hamilton after serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He attended McMaster University and Osgoode Hall Law School.
In 1968, he became Canada’s first black MP, representing Hamilton West until 1980. In 1979, he was appointed Minister of Labour, becoming Canada’s first black cabinet minister. He then became Ontario’s first black lieutenant governor from 1985 to 1991.
He died on Oct. 19, 2012 at age 90.
With Lincoln Alexander Day in Ontario, children in 3,000 schools will learn about Linc, Marnie Alexander said.
As for how she spent Jan. 21, she spent it "like everyone else — in love."