A Woman's Place: My Life and Politics
D.M.L. Farr is a professor emeritus of history at Carleton University in
This book is not easily categorized. Neither a conventional political
autobiography nor a statement of NDP policy, it is rather a personal and
revealing account of one woman’s entry into politics and the
challenges she has taken up.
McLaughlin’s political career has been short—just under six years.
In 1979, as a single mother, she drove to the Yukon in a pickup truck to
begin a new life. In 1987 she succeeded Erik Nielson as the Yukon’s
representative in the House of Commons. She was re-elected in the
general election of 1988, and a year later became national leader of the
NDP. (She was, in Canada, only the third woman ever to run for the
leadership of a federal party, and the first to be successful.) Since
then she has been positioning the NDP to win more than the 20 percent of
the popular vote it gained in 1988. A Woman’s Place is ammunition in
Interspersed with McLaughlin’s political beliefs are flashbacks from
her life. These provide the basis for her values and convictions, her
views on the plight of poor and Native women; the need for more support
for education; international development; Canada’s defence policy (she
would like the military to become monitors of the environment); the
economy; the Constitution; women in politics; and a host of other
subjects. McLaughlin emerges as a caring and pragmatic woman. Whether
this book will help her party in its quest for more House of Commons
seats is a question only the Canadian voters can answer.