|Currently the Member of Parliament for Parkdale–High Park, Peggy is a lifelong activist, social democrat, and leader.As a parliamentarian, Peggy has held the Finance and Industry Critic portfolios and is known for her expertise in the areas of finance, labour, and social equality. A leading expert on economic affairs, Peggy has challenged the Harper Conservatives on their ineffective economic policy, inaction on rising inequality, and failure to adequately resolve unemployment in Canada.
As a top executive for one of Canada’s largest private-sector unions, Peggy was a senior negotiator and advocate with decades of experience that began in the airlines sector.
As an activist, Peggy has spent years in the struggle for equality, human rights, social justice, and environmental protection.
And at home, Peggy is a devoted daughter, mother, and partner. She and her partner Carl raised three sons in Toronto.
Peggy’s grandparents immigrated to Canada from the UK in search of better opportunities for their family. She and her siblings were raised in Rexdale, Ontario. Peggy’s father – whom she describes as “the fairest man in the world” – was a General Electric plant worker. To the delight of her family, Peggy became the first person in the family to attend university.
Peggy holds an Honours BA in French language and literature from the University of Toronto and is fluent in English, French, and Spanish.
Peggy started her career as an airline booking agent where her progressive ideas and activism began to develop. Peggy worked her way up from an organizer role with the Canadian Airline Employees Association to become a senior negotiator with the Canadian Auto Workers union. In 2005, Peggy was the first woman in North America to lead union negotiations with the automotive industry.
As a labour leader/negotiator, Peggy was directly responsible for policies that have benefitted workplaces right across the country: same sex benefits, accessible advocates on the job, the right to refuse unsafe work due to harassment, employer-paid childcare, anti-harassment policies, leadership training, support for LGBT and workers of colour … to name just a few achievements. Peggy has helped make workplaces more equitable and more humane not just for union members, but for all workers.
Peggy was encouraged to run for the NDP by Jack Layton shortly after he became leader in 2003. In 2006, Jack appointed Peggy Industry Critic and Critic for the City of Toronto. Her tenacity and fortitude as a parliamentarian was evident when she successfully pressed the government to reject – for the first time in more than 20 years – the foreign takeover of a major Canadian company.
When Peggy was elected again in 2011, in the orange wave that swept the NDP into the Official Opposition, Jack Layton appointed her Finance critic. Ever since, she has been front and center in the House of Commons, demanding the Harper Conservatives make strategic investments in job creation, develop a green economy, and cancel wasteful corporate tax cuts.
A founding member of Equal Voice – a multi-partisan organization working to elect more women at all levels of government – Peggy is an avid supporter of the Stephen Lewis Foundation and has served as volunteer board member for a variety of progressive organizations.
Fighter. Builder. Leader.
Having spent her whole life fighting for social justice, Peggy speaks often of the indignation that sparks her into action:
“I can’t stand it when people are discriminated against – when people work as hard as they possibly can and can’t get above the poverty level, when people face the indignity of racism, sexism, or ageism, when people are denied access because of who they are, who they love, or their economic status.”
Peggy has spent years on the front-lines of the fight for equality, workers’ rights, a green economy, and healthy communities.
Peggy was named an international monitor for South Africa’s first post-apartheid elections in 1994. She also monitored the 2004 and 2007 elections in the Ukraine. In November 2005, Peggy led a delegation to Argentina to oppose the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. She also participated in the World Social Forum in Brazil in 2003.
In recognition of her outstanding efforts, Peggy has received numerous awards, including two from the Sierra Club of Canada for environmental leadership, a certificate of honour from the City of Toronto for efforts to end violence against women, and the 2009 YWCA Woman of Distinction Award.
Known for her tireless work to build a better, stronger, and more just Canada, Peggy has a respected track record as a builder within social movements, within the NDP, and at the community level.
And after so many years of rallying people around common causes, campaigns, and projects, Peggy has garnered a reputation as an effective bridge builder.
At the riding level, as NDP president, and in any number of organizational capacities, Peggy always strives to bring people together, mediate competing interests, and forge enthusiastic consensus – the mark of a true leader.
“One person alone can make a difference, but when we get together and build on our common principles, on our shared values, we can make lasting, concrete change.”
Peggy’s candidacy to lead the NDP is fueled by a credible, passionate vision.
As much about building the party as leading it, Peggy’s campaign continues to draw dynamic support every single day – from party stalwarts to energetic newcomers, Peggy’s brand of leadership is the NDP’s best hope to build on our gains and reach new heights.