Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


March 8, 2017

Remembering Margaret Mitchell

S. Simpson: All of us over our lives meet remarkable and special people. Margaret Mitchell was such a person. She passed away yesterday at the age of 92. The Member of Parliament for Vancouver East from 1979 to1993, Margaret was a leader on women’s issues, multiculturalism and social justice. It was appropriate that she passed on International Women’s Day, as the fight for women’s equality was such an important part of her life’s work.

She created a national debate when she called out male MPs who made jokes while she raised the issue of violence against women, chastising those MPs and calling it “no laughing matter.” That became the headline in newspapers and newscasts across Canada. It did not happen again in the House of Commons.

I worked with her in Ottawa during the repatriation of the constitution. Margaret made her office campaign central for women’s groups to fight a successful campaign to entrench women’s rights in the Charter.

Margaret voted against an MP pay raise and then quietly used the money to create the Margaret Mitchell Fund for Women to support opportunities for poor women in Vancouver. That fund thrives today.

She was the first MP to raise the issue of the Chinese head tax in the House of Commons. She pushed the government to decriminalize abortion, worked with First Nations women for reinstatement of their status and supported a national child care program.

Before politics she worked in Japan, Korea, Australia and Austria for the Canadian Red Cross and was the innovator of the community development model in Vancouver to help citizens to organize for their rights.

I met her as a teenager growing up in the Raymur housing project in Strathcona. She inspired me to pursue the path my life has taken. She was my friend and my mentor.

Margaret has received numerous awards and accolades over the years, including the Order of British Columbia, in 2000, and the Freedom of the City of Vancouver this year.

Margaret never chased headlines, always fought with determination, principle and resolve for social justice, for the rights of our most vulnerable citizens and for true equality for all. In doing so, she has made a lasting impact on the lives of many people in B.C. and across the country.

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