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Tuesday marks 40th anniversary of Marion Reid’s first election win in 1979

P.E.I.’s Famous Five take part in a recreation of a photograph taken in 1993. The five women spoke to an all-female audience of high school students at the legislature on Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Shown back row, left, former speaker of the house Nancy Guptill, former leader of the opposition Pat Mella, former deputy speaker Elizabeth (Libbe) Hubley, and, front, former lieutenant-governor Marion Reid and former premier Catherine Callbeck.
P.E.I.’s Famous Five take part in a recreation of a photograph taken in 1993. Shown back row, left, former speaker of the house Nancy Guptill, former leader of the opposition Pat Mella, former deputy speaker Elizabeth (Libbe) Hubley, and, front, former lieutenant-governor Marion Reid and former premier Catherine Callbeck. - Stu Neatby

Marion Reid’s political life was a life of firsts for P.E.I.

She was the first woman deputy Speaker, then the first woman Speaker of the legislative assembly. She also went on to become the first female lieutenant-governor.

And during her tenure as lieutenant-governor in the 1990s, she was part of P.E.I.’s Famous Five.

It was the first and only time in Canadian history women held the positions of premier, lieutenant-governor, leader of the Opposition, Speaker and deputy Speaker.

April 23 marks the 40th anniversary of the general election which made Reid an MLA for the first time.

Reid recalls that she was principal of St. Ann’s Elementary School in Hope River, when Angus MacLean sent two lawyers to convince her to run for politics.

“Look, if Angus thinks I can do this, I’m gonna do it,” she said in a recent interview with The Guardian.

So she did.

First, she needed to win a nomination, which she lost.

She tried again and won the nomination but lost the election.

The second election was a success. She won one of the seats in the dual riding of 1st Queens, along with another female PC, Leone Bagnall.

“It never occurred to me to give up,” she said.

The willingness to continue in defeat helps explain the trajectory of her career. She also credits her unwillingness to be pushed around.

She recalls only two real moments when she was treated differently than her male counterparts.

Once, the premier of the day told her to get out of the gutter.

The other was a reporter who couldn’t be bothered to figure out whether she was Marion Reid or Leone Bagnall before asking her.

She put both men in their place.

“It’s not an easy thing,” she said. “You can allow yourself to be intimidated, but I wasn’t one of those people.”

Speaking from Andrews Senior Care in Charlottetown, Reid says her time in politics was a rewarding period, with friends made, battles won and an opportunity to enact strong policies.

“To this day, I just think it was one of the good times of my life,” she said.

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