Fond of Flora

Cape Bre­ton­ers con­tinue to re­mem­ber North Syd­ney na­tive.

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY LAURA JEAN GRANT lj­grant@cb­

In the heart of the 1979 fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign, Joyce MacDougall was learn­ing the po­lit­i­cal ropes as a first-time Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date in the rid­ing of Cape Bre­ton-The Syd­neys.

So it was with open arms that she wel­comed North Syd­ney na­tive Flora Mac­Don­ald, then an es­tab­lished On­tario MP for Kingston and the Is­lands, to join her on the cam­paign trail.

“She was kind enough to come in and cam­paign with me and she gave me all kinds of tips. I was young, to­tally new in that field, a woman, and she gave me point­ers and helped in ev­ery way she could,” said MacDougall.

Some 36 years later, MacDougall, who lost the elec­tion to Lib­eral Rus­sell MacLel­lan, said she never for­got that show of sup­port from Mac­Don­ald — a women she con­sid­ered a role model and a men­tor.

“She said that she wanted to come home and to lend a help­ing hand, and so she did,” she said. “She was so friendly and peo­ple re­acted to her so well be­cause, of course, she was from the area.”

A day af­ter Mac­Don­ald’s death in Ot­tawa at age 89, peo­ple across the coun­try and around the globe were con­tin­u­ing to re­mem­ber her con­tri­bu­tions as a politi­cian and hu­man­i­tar­ian. MacDougall said she re­mem­bers Mac­Don­ald as an en­er­getic, down-to-earth woman.

“She never for­got a per­son, ever. She could be walk­ing through an air­port and spot some­one from Cape Bre­ton and im­me­di­ately go over and say hello and ask how they were,” she said. “She was just a fine, fine lady and al­ways talked about her Cape Bre­ton roots no mat­ter where she was — that was very im­por­tant to her.”

Su­san (O’Keefe) Muise, a Syd­ney na­tive who now lives in Elms­dale, N.S., was a vol­un­teer with MacDougall’s cam­paign in 1979 when Mac­Don­ald came to town.

“She was such a won­der­ful woman,” she said. “She came over and we chat­ted like we were the best of bud­dies. She was that kind of a per­son.”

In Syd­ney on Mon­day, there were vis­i­ble signs of re­mem­brance for Mac­Don­ald, as the flags out­side the civic cen­tre in Syd­ney were low­ered to half mast.

Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity Mayor Ce­cil Clarke said Mac­Don­ald rep­re­sented the is­land well on the na­tional and in­ter­na­tional stage.

“Her distin­guished po­lit­i­cal ca­reer is a great source of pride for all Cape Bre­ton­ers,” he said. “She con­tin­ued to make a pos­i­tive im­pact in the world through her hu­man­i­tar­ian work, which took her to Afghanistan many times in re­cent years. For­mer Nova Sco­tia premier Rod­ney Mac­Don­ald, now CEO of the Gaelic Col­lege, de- scribed her as an in­spi­ra­tion to gen­er­a­tions of Cana­di­ans and said he re­ally en­joyed get­ting the chance to talk with her on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions over the years.

“I was al­ways struck by her kind and gen­er­ous na­ture, and the fact that she was al­ways wear­ing her heart on her sleeve for Cape Bre­ton Is­land,” he said.

Mac­Don­ald said she was widely re­spected and com­manded at­ten­tion when she spoke, whether it was on the po­lit­i­cal scene or in the field of in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment.

“Her work in­ter­na­tion­ally goes with­out ques­tion. She was a hu­man­i­tar­ian and will be deeply missed by many,” he said.


Flora Mac­Don­ald, right, cam­paigned with Cape Bre­ton-The Syd­neys Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive can­di­date Joyce MacDougall, cen­tre, in Syd­ney dur­ing the 1979 fed­eral elec­tion cam­paign. Su­san (O’Keefe) Muise, a vol­un­teer on MacDougall’s cam­paign, also met Mac­Don­ald that day. Mac­Don­ald died Sun­day at age 89.

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