Ellen Fairclough

Ellen Fairclough

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Ellen Fairclough

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Ellen Louks Fairclough, (January 28, 1905 – November 13, 2004) was the first female member of the Canadian Cabinet.

Born in Hamilton, Ontario, Fairclough was a chartered accountant by training, and ran an accounting firm prior to entering politics. She was a member of Hamilton City Council from 1945 to 1950.

Political career

She was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons in a 1950 by-election after being defeated in the 1949 federal election. She then represented Hamilton West for the Progressive Conservatives until she lost her seat in the 1963 election. As a Member of Parliament, she advocated women's rights including equal pay for equal work.

When the PC Party took power as a result of the 1957 federal election, new Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker, appointed her to the position of Secretary of State for Canada. In 1958, she became Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and from 1962 until her defeat in 1963, she was Postmaster General. As Immigration Minister in 1962, Fairclough introduced new regulations that mostly eliminated racial discrimination in immigration policy. She also introduced a more liberal policy on refugees, and increased the number of immigrants allowed into Canada. However, she was said to be fiercely opposed to hiring homosexuals to important positions. Her firing of Alan Jarvis as director of the National Gallery was fictionalized in the novel What's Bred in the Bone by Robertson Davies.cf. Judith Skelton Grant, Man......
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