Flora MacDonald, first female External Affairs minister, dies at 89

Flora MacDonald is promoted as a companion in the Order of Canada by Governor General Romeo LeBlanc in Ottawa Wednesday April 14, 1999. CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson

OTTAWA – Flora MacDonald, who served as a senior cabinet member in two Conservative federal governments and made a run for the party’s leadership in 1976, has died. She was 89.

MacDonald’s long-time executive assistant Margit Herrman says MacDonald died in Ottawa this morning – the cause of death was not immediately available.

MacDonald was the first woman to hold the foreign affairs portfolio in Joe Clark’s government from 1979 to 1980.

She was heading the department during the Iranian hostage crisis when Canadian diplomats gave shelter to six Americans who escaped capture when their embassy was overrun.

MacDonald was first elected to the House of Commons in 1972, after successfully running as the Progressive Conservative party candidate in the Ontario riding of Kingston and the Islands. She served continually as MP in that riding until her defeat in 1988.

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She ran for the party leadership in 1976, finishing well behind Clark.


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