Mr. Speaker, Women's History Month gives us the opportunity to recognize the contribution of great women who played a vital role in our national heritage.
I have the distinct privilege to take this opportunity to pay tribute to a great Canadian, my predecessor as the MP for Hamilton West, a personal friend and constituent, the Right Honourable Ellen Fairclough.
First elected in 1950, Mrs. Fairclough was only the sixth woman to sit in this Chamber. On June 21, 1957 she became Canada's first woman cabinet minister. First as secretary of state, then as citizenship and immigration minister and finally as Postmaster General, she came to be one of the Diefenbaker cabinet's most resilient ministers.
Mrs. Fairclough is credited for such initiatives as introducing legislation to give status Indians the right to vote and reforming immigration policy to eliminate racial discrimination. Having no role models for guidance, Ellen Fairclough always made her own rules and chartered her own course. She was a pioneer in virtually everything she did and today she is a model for parliamentarians and all Canadians.