Margaret Aitken

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Margaret Aitken
Member of Parliament for York—Humber
In office
Preceded by new district
Succeeded by Ralph Cowan
Personal details
Born (1908-07-03)July 3, 1908
Newcastle, New Brunswick
Died November 19, 1980(1980-11-19) (aged 72)
Political party Progressive Conservative
Occupation Journalist

Margaret Aitken (July 3, 1908 – November 19, 1980) was a Canadian author, columnist, journalist, and politician.


Aitken was born in Newcastle, New Brunswick. She attended Branksome Hall in Toronto.[1] She was the daughter of J. Mauns Aitken and her uncle was Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook. Her brother, William Aitken and his son Jonathan Aitken (her nephew) were members of the British House of Commons.[1]

She started with the Toronto Telegram in 1938 and was a foreign correspondent. She was noted for covering the birth of Israel as a nation and she became a strong supporter of the Jewish state.[1] In 1953, she wrote a book Hey Ma! I Did It (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company) about her political campaign in the same year.


In the 1953 federal election, she was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in the riding of York—Humber as the Progressive Conservative candidate, winning by 67 votes. Along with Sybil Bennett, Ellen Fairclough and Ann Shipley, she was one of four women elected to the House of Commons that year, only the second election in Canadian history in which more than one woman was elected to Parliament.

In 1957 she became the first woman to be appointed chair of a parliamentary committee, the Standing Committee on Standing Orders. The committee discusses rules of the House.[2] She was re-elected in 1957 and 1958. She was defeated in 1962 by 662 votes.

Later life

In 1962, Aitken was appointed as Canada's representative to the UN's Commission on Human Rights.[3] She died at age 72 after a long illness.

Electoral record

Canadian federal election, 1953
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Progressive Conservative Margaret Aitken 11,157
     Liberal Kenneth L. Thompson 11,090
     Co-operative Commonwealth Jennie B. Prosser 4,924
Canadian federal election, 1957
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Progressive Conservative Margaret Aitken 18,449
     Liberal Kenneth L. Thompson 10,851
     Co-operative Commonwealth Margaret Thetford 4,872
Social Credit Charles R. Ellis 1,324
Canadian federal election, 1958
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Progressive Conservative Margaret Aitken 23,723
     Liberal Elena Murdock Dacosta 9,557
     Co-operative Commonwealth Leonard Collins 6,257
Canadian federal election, 1962
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
     Liberal Ralph Cowan 15,526
     Progressive Conservative Margaret Aitken 14,864
     New Democratic Party Charles Millard 11,622
Social Credit Ronald G. Sibbald 564


  • Aitken, Margaret; Sanders, Byrne Hope (1953). Hey Ma! I did it. Clarke, Irwin & co. Ltd. pp. xiv, 213.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Margaret Aitken Telegram writer served three terms as Tory MP". The Globe and Mail. 1980-11-20. p. 17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Margaret Aitken Heads Commons' Committee: First woman to hold job". Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. 1957-11-21. p. 1.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Nominee for UN Post". Calgary Herald. 1962-10-30. p. 6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links