Marion Dewar

Marion Dewar, née Bell, public-health nurse, feminist, mayor of OTTAWA, politician (b at Montréal 17 Feb 1928; d at Hamilton, Ont 18 September 2008). She was first elected Ottawa alderman in 1972, and later became deputy mayor. While defeated as a provincial candidate in Ottawa West in 1977, she was elected mayor of Ottawa from 1978 to 1985. Among the policy areas she emphasized were improved public access to municipal decision-making, low-cost housing and child care. She co-hosted the Women's Constitutional Conference calling for gender equality provisions in the Canadian Charter of Rights. Under her mayoralty, Ottawa was declared a nuclear-free zone and provided homes to some 4000 Southeast Asian refugees.

In 1985 Dewar was elected president of the federal NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY (NDP), and urged the party to have more female candidates. In July 1987 she was a successful candidate for the NDP in a federal by-election in Hamilton West but she lost the seat in the 1988 general election. After her defeat she became the executive director of the Canadian Council on Children and Youth from 1989 to 1992 and in 1995 the national chair of Oxfam Canada, an organization created in 1963 and based on Oxfam International that seeks to reduce international poverty and create self-sustaining communities.

In the early 1990s, Dewar was appointed by Bob RAE's Ontario NDP government to the regional Police Services Board, but was subsequently fired by the Mike HARRIS Conservative government in 1995. She won a court ruling to be reinstated, in spite of the Tory government's appeal.

Marion Dewar became a member of the ORDER OF CANADA in 2002. Dewar held the position of vice-chair of the Heart Institute and was a past-chair of Oxfam Canada. Dewar's son Paul was elected to the House of Commons as an NDP member of parliament in 2006. She died suddenly in September 2008 after a severe fall.