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Marion Boyd

Marion Boyd
Ontario MPP
In office
Preceded by David Peterson
Succeeded by Riding abolished
Constituency London Centre
Personal details
Born (1946-03-26) March 26, 1946
Toronto, Ontario
Political party New Democrat
Residence London, Ontario
Occupation Mediator

Marion Boyd (born March 26, 1946) is a former politician in Ontario, Canada. She was a New Democratic member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1990 to 1999 who represented the riding of London Centre. She was a member of cabinet in the government of Bob Rae. She works as a consultant and mediator.


  • Background 1
  • Politics 2
    • Cabinet positions 2.1
  • Electoral record (Federal) 3
    • London East 3.1
  • Electoral record (provincial) 4
    • London North 4.1
    • London Centre 4.2
    • London North Centre 4.3
  • After politics 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


In 1968, Boyd graduated from Glendon College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and history. From 1968 to 1973, she worked as an assistant to the president of York University. In 1975-76, she helped the York University Faculty Members win their first union contract.[1] She subsequently worked as an executive director of the London Battered Women's Advocacy Clinic, and served two terms as president of the London Status of Women Action Group.[2] She is widely known as a feminist.[1] Boyd works as an environmental business consultant and mediator.


In 1985, Boyd was the NDP candidate in London North in the provincial election of 1985, but finished third against incumbent Liberal Robert Van Horne.[3] She ran in London Centre in the 1987 election, and lost to sitting Premier David Peterson by almost 9,000 votes.[4] She campaigned as a federal New Democrat in the 1988 general election, finished third behind Liberal Joe Fontana and Progressive Conservative Jim Jepson in London East.[5]

Boyd sought a rematch against Peterson in the 1990 provincial election. This time she won, defeating the Premier by more than 8,000 votes.[6] It was almost unheard of for a provincial premier to be defeated in his own riding, and the size of Boyd's victory was all the more surprising. The NDP won the election, and the new Premier, Bob Rae, appointed her as Minister of Education on October 1, 1990.[7]

When fellow cabinet member Anne Swarbrick resigned due to health issues, Booyd took over responsibility for Women's Issues on September 11, 1991.[8] Boyd launched a high-profile campaign against domestic abuse in the same year.[9] She was transferred to the Ministry of Community and Social Services on October 15, 1991 when Zanana Akande resigned due to a conflict of interest.[10]

Boyd was promoted to Attorney General of Ontario on February 3, 1993, the first woman to hold that position as well as the first non-lawyer.[11] In this capacity, she was responsible for Bill 167, that would have granted benefits to same-sex couples.[12] The bill failed on a free vote when twelve NDP members voted with the opposition parties against the bill.[13] The bill's failure was a personal disappointment for Boyd, who had invested considerable effort in promoting its passage. Ironically, the Conservatives who voted unanimously against Bill 167, passed the same legislation five years without fanfare.[14]

Boyd also approved a highly controversial plea-bargain deal that allowed serial killer Karla Homolka to receive a 12 year prison sentence in return for testimony which led to the conviction of Homolka's then-husband, Paul Bernardo. The deal was criticized in much of the Canadian media, and many questioned Boyd's judgment in the matter. At the time the extent of Homolka's personal involvement in Bernardo's crimes was not known.[15]

Boyd remained as Attorney General until the Rae government was defeated in the 1995 election. She was one of seventeen NDP MPPs to successfully retain their seats in that election, defeating PC candidate Patrick McGuinness by fewer than 2,000 votes.[16] Boyd remained a high-profile MPP, serving as the NDP's Health Critic from 1997-99.

The London Centre riding was eliminated by redistribution in 1996. Boyd ran against fellow incumbent Dianne Cunningham of the Progressive Conservative Party in London North Centre, and lost by just over 1,700 votes.[17]

Cabinet positions

Provincial Government of Bob Rae
Cabinet Posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Howard Hampton Attorney General
also named Minister of Justice and Responsible for Women's Issues
Charles Harnick
Zanana Akande Minister of Community and Social Services
Also Responsible for Women's Issues
Tony Silipo
Sean Conway Minister of Education
Tony Silipo

Electoral record (Federal)

London East

Canadian federal election, 1988
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Liberal Joe Fontana 19,547 37.7% +11.8%
Progressive Conservative Jim Jepson 19,445 37.5% -9.7%
New Democratic Marion Boyd 12,667 24.4% -2.5%
Independent Peter Ewart 201 0.4% +0.4%

Electoral record (provincial)

London North

Ontario general election, 1985
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal Ronald Van Horne 20,536 54.4% +4.8%
Progressive Conservative George Auold 11,433 30.3% -7.7%
New Democratic Marion Boyd 5,191 13.8% +1.4%
Freedom Robert Smeenk 566 1.5% +1.5%

London Centre

Ontario general election, 1987
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Liberal David Peterson 18,194 55.2% +0.4%
New Democratic Marion Boyd 9,266 28.1% +11.0%
Progressive Conservative Dennis McKaig 3,864 11.7% -14.8%
Family Coalition Brenda Rowe 695 2.1% +2.1%
Freedom Lloyd Walker 589 1.8% +0.2%
Independent Stunning Bentley 375 1.1% +1.1%
Ontario general election, 1990
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Marion Boyd 17,837 51.3% +23.2%
Liberal David Peterson 9,671 27.8% -27.4%
Progressive Conservative Mark Handelman 5,348 15.4% +3.7%
Family Coalition John Van Geldersen 982 2.8% +0.7%
Freedom Lloyd Walker 589 1.4% -0.4%
Independent Terry Smart 375 0.8% +0.8%
Communist Issam Mansour 84 0.2% +0.2%
Independent Sidney Tarleton 73 0.2% +0.2%
Ontario general election, 1995
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
New Democratic Marion Boyd 11,096 36.8% -14.5%
Progressive Conservative Patrick McGuinness 9,364 31.0% +15.6%
Liberal Ron Postian 7,559 25.1% -2.7%
Family Coalition Mike Dwyer 1,041 3.5% +0.7%
Green Jeff Culbert 533 1.8% +1.8%
Freedom Lloyd Walker 452 1.5% +0.1%
Natural Law Liz Overall 134 0.4% +0.4%

London North Centre

Ontario general election, 1999
Party Candidate Votes % ∆%
Progressive Conservative Dianne Cunningham 18,320 40.21
New Democratic Marion Boyd 16,611 36.46
Liberal Roger Caranci 9,518 20.89
Family Coalition Andrew Jezierski 466 1.02
Green Jeff Culbert 366 0.80
Freedom Robert Metz 156 0.34
Natural Law Stephen Porter 120 0.26
Total valid votes 45,557 100.00

After politics

In 2000, she was appointed as chair to the Task Force on the Health Effects of Woman Abuse. It was convened in response to the problem of domestic violence against women.[18] Later that year the task force produced a report with 29 recommendations. The key conclusion was that doctors should begin screening female patients as young as 12 years old for signs of abuse.[19]

In December 2003, it came to light that religious tribunals had some legal basis under the Arbitration Act. Some argued that this interpretation allowed for Muslim Sharia law to be applied in settling family disputes.[20] In the spring of 2004, the issue flared up even more with some claiming that the use of Sharia law tribunals was infringing on the rights of Muslim women.[21] In the summer of 2004, Premier Dalton McGuinty asked Boyd to investigate the issue.

In December 2004, she released a report that found no evidence of complaints with regards to faith-based arbitration. She concluded that no changes to the act were needed with respect to religious tribunals. She made 46 recommendations for changes to the Arbitration Act primarily dealing with arbitrator training and clarifying the roles and responsibilities of tribunals.[20] In 2005, in response to public opinion, McGuinty ignored Boyd's main conclusion and tabled changes to the act under the Family Statute Law Amendment Act.

While incorporating many of Boyd's recommendations, the act specifically removed any legal status for the arbitration of custodial and marital disputes by religious tribunals.[22] The act mandated that all family law arbitrations in Ontario be conducted only in accordance with Canadian law.[23] Some critics argued that this was a missed opportunity to incorporate aspects of Islamic law into the Canadian judicial system.[24]


  1. ^ a b Hall, Joseph (September 14, 1990). "Social activist eager to make changes". Toronto Star. p. A11. 
  2. ^ Zarzour, Kim (July 21, 1987). "Police lax on wife-beaters, critics say". Toronto Star. p. D1. 
  3. ^ Canadian Press (May 3, 1985). "Across the province". Toronto Star. p. A13. 
  4. ^ "Here's how red tide swamped Ontario - riding by riding; Peterson's Liberals romp to victory". The Gazette (Montreal). September 11, 1987. p. A6. 
  5. ^ "Riding-by-riding look at election results from across the country". The Ottawa Citizen. November 22, 1988. p. B6. 
  6. ^ "Ontario election: Riding-by-riding voting results". The Globe and Mail. September 7, 1990. p. A12. 
  7. ^ "Ontario cabinet". The Windsor Star. October 1, 1990. p. A4. 
  8. ^ "Swarbrick gives up women's portfolio". The Globe and Mail. September 12, 1991. p. A12. 
  9. ^ "Ontario ads may be triggering assults". The Hamilton Spectator. November 3, 1992. p. A1. 
  10. ^ "Rae reassigns cabinet ministers". Edmonton Journal. October 16, 1991. p. A16. 
  11. ^ Walker, William (February 3, 1993). "Rae chops 10 ministries 'leaner' cabinet sworn in". Toronto Star. p. A1. 
  12. ^ DeMara, Bruce (June 11, 1993). "NDP bill to grant more spousal rights to same-sex couples". Toronto Star. p. A1. 
  13. ^ Powell, Betsy (June 10, 1994). "Ontario rejects same-sex bill; Angry gay activists shout `shame' after compromise defeated". The Gazette. p. A1. 
  14. ^ Mallan, Caroline (October 28, 1999). "Same-sex couples granted new rights; Bill's passage follows order by top court to end discrimination". Toronto Star. p. 1. 
  15. ^ Duncanson, John; Pron, Nick; Rankin, Jim (September 3, 1995). "Deal With The Devil". Toronto Star. p. F1. 
  16. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 8, 1995. 
  17. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 3, 1999. 
  18. ^ Swanson, Lynne (March 21, 2000). "Abuse against women a public health issue: MD". Canadian Medical Association Journal 162 (6): 848. 
  19. ^ Swanson, Lynne (November 28, 2000). "Task force recommends screening females for abuse beginning at age 12". Canadian Medical Association Journal 163 (11): 1492. 
  20. ^ a b Hogben, Alia. "Arbitration and Family Laws: Muslim Women Campaign to Eliminate the Use of Religious Laws in Legally-Binding Arbitration". Canadian Woman Studies 25 (Summer 2006): 133–136. 
  21. ^ Hurst, Lynda (May 22, 2004). "Ontario sharia tribunals assailed; Women fighting use of Islamic law But backers say rights protected". Toronto Star. p. A1. 
  22. ^ Urquhart, Ian (February 11, 2006). "Sharia, pensions, health care on MPPs' agenda". Toronto Star. p. F5. 
  23. ^ "McGuinty Government Modernizes Provincial Laws". Ottawa: Canada NewsWire. June 22, 2006. 
  24. ^ Kutty, Faisal (January 27, 2011), The Myth and Reality of 'Shari'a' Courts in Canada: A Delayed Opportunity for the Indigenization of Islamic Legal Rulings, Social Science Research Network 

External links

  • Ontario Legislative Assembly Parliamentarian History

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