Teasers: Nova Scotia Politics 1945-2020 by Graham Steele
“The next milestone for women came in 1980, when Alexa McDonough became the first female leader of a major party. She won a seat in the legislature a year later, and kept it until she resigned in 1995 to take a successful run at the federal NDP leadership.
McDonough was a smart and energetic champion for social justice and a tireless thorn in the side of the Buchanan, Cameron and Savage governments. McDonough never achieved electoral success – the largest caucus she led was three – but she was a household name.
Helen MacDonald was the second female party leader; she resigned less than a year later.
The Liberals and Conservatives have never had a permanent female leader.
The Conservatives have twice had a female interim leader: Karen Casey in 2009–2010 between Rodney MacDonald and Jamie Baillie, and Karla MacFarlane in 2018 between Baillie and Tim Houston. Casey later joined the Liberals and served in senior roles in the McNeil cabinet, including deputy premier. MacFarlane had the distinction of being the first female leader of the opposition. Maureen MacDonald was interim leader of the NDP after Darrell Dexter resigned in 2013, until Gary Burrill assumed the leadership in 2016.
The Liberals have never had a female leader, whether permanent or interim. Diana Whalen came closest in 2007, losing the 2007 Liberal leadership to Stephen McNeil by only 68 votes on the final ballot. McNeil, of course, went on to the premiership. Whalen was named deputy premier in McNeil’s government, and carried the finance and justice portfolios. She did not reoffer in the 2017 election.”
–Excerpted from Nova Scotia Politics 1945-2020 by Graham Steele. Published by Pottersfield Press. pottersfieldpress.com