Opinion | Rosemary Speirs was an advocate for women in Canadian politics

This week, Canada lost a journalistic legend.

Former Toronto Star and Globe and Mail reporter Rosemary Speirs has passed away in the presence of her beloved son, Murray.

Speirs’ name should be in every Canadian history book.

As a journalist, Rosemary was always at the forefront of social issues.

As a young reporter, she was shocked by the inequalities her gender faces in a country as advanced as Canada.

Rosemary spent her life fighting inequities, first writing about them and exposing them and finally changing them.

Even after retiring from the Star, he never stopped writing. But he also put his money and his volunteer efforts where his words had been.

Rosemary began her second career as an activist by founding The Women’s Political ConneXion, an organization that brought together 44 groups and prominent Canadians with a common belief that we need more women in politics.

That grassroots organizing eventually led to the creation of the renowned advocacy group Equal Voice.

In 2001, Rosemary founded Equal Voice, supported by like-minded friends who wanted to see more women at all levels of government.

And when the organization needed funding at its inception, Rosemary was the first to step up and help the organization grow into the national equality powerhouse it is today.

I knew Rosemary long before her political activism. She was the Globe and Mail bureau chief at Queen’s Park when I entered the place as a junior provincial member in 1981.

And when I migrated to the federal scene in 1984, she followed me soon after.

Rosemary moved from the Globe to the Star in 1984 and came to Ottawa as bureau chief in 1989.

As a journalist, she was always ready with the right questions and she did her research.

What he did not do was destroy the politicians he questioned.

I always had the feeling that even though she was absolutely neutral in her reporting, she wanted young women to succeed.

While others (mostly men) were happy to see the young politicians fall flat on their faces, Rosemary was always kindly supportive, even when she posed deeply probing questions.

One thing was for sure. Rosemary really believed that more women in politics could really change the dynamic of all those macho white men on Capitol Hill.

So when she retired from journalism, she began some of her most enduring work, including recruiting the next generation of women in politics.

Raylene Lang-Dion, who succeeded Rosemary as national president of Equal Voice, had this to say about Rosemary’s passing: “There are no words to adequately describe her contributions in life.” Lang-Dion called her a trailblazer who dedicated herself to electing more women to public office.

Rosemary also devoted some of her seemingly limitless energy to supporting environmental causes. She served as chair of the board for Ontario Nature, an organization dedicated to the preservation of forests, wetlands, and wildlife.

During her decades as a national political journalist, Rosemary wrote passionately on issues she clearly understood.

After journalism, he used that lifetime of knowledge to bring about change.

In 2004 he received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the People’s Case. Three years later, she was appointed Dr. Speirs, recognized by Trent University for her outstanding work for equality and the environment.

She is survived by her son, Murray Deverell, her daughter-in-law Mimi, and her beloved granddaughter, Leona.

It is difficult to understand how a person, who was never elected to public office, could have such an impact on Canadian politics.

Rosemary wrote what she lived and lived what she wrote.

Rest in peace.

Sheila Copps was a Member of Parliament from 1984 to 2004. She served as a Cabinet Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of Canada.


Conversations are the opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of conduct. The Star does not endorse these views.

Leave a Comment