MARION BRYDEN

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MARION BRYDEN Marion Bryden passed away on February 12, 2013. A native of Winnipeg (born 1918), Marion Bryden received her post-secondary education at the University of Manitoba and as a scholarship student at the University of Toronto. Her fist employment was as a researcher in the federal Department of Labour, where she met her future husband. When Ken moved to Saskatchewan in 1944 to work for Tommy Douglas' new CCP government, she resigned her position in Ottawa and stopped off at her family home in Winnipeg long enough to get married to Ken (who had taken time out from his work in Regina to come to Winnipeg). Their honeymoon was a train ride from Winnipeg to Regina. In Saskatchewan she was quickly hired by the government to do research for two University of Saskatchewan professors who were serving as government consultants. She immediately became a test case on the right of married women to work for governments, a radically new idea at the time. The opposition and the media made a major issue of the case, but Premier Douglas held firm, insisting that the only relevant consideration was the qualifications of the employee. In 1945 the government established an Economic Advisory and Planning Board headed by George Cadbury, a British socialist with extensive business and government experience. Cadbury assembled expert staff from all over the continent, and Marion was one of the first to be taken on. In 1949 she moved with Ken to Toronto where she got a job in budget forecasting and inventory control with Simpsons Mail Order. This was a welcome addition to Ken's uncertain income from the struggling CCP. She jeopardized her Simpsons job, however, by working actively as a volunteer in the major union drive (unfortunately unsuccessful) to organize Eatons. In 1960 she became a researcher and statistician for the Canadian Tax Foundation, where she authored two books and numerous articles on taxation, as well as editing the Foundation's annual reference works on federal and provincial finances. In 1967 she was hired to do research for the NDP caucus in the Ontario Legislature, and in the ensuing years she assembled a staff that evoked widespread admiration for the NDP research department. Though coming from a conservative family background, Marion developed a growing interest in socialist ideas at the University of Toronto, and she became increasingly active in the CCP. She was heavily involved with Ken in laying the groundwork for the New Democratic Party, and she was a member of the party's federal Council for six years. She was also active in the Ontario Woodsworth Memorial Foundation - Ontario's Fabian Society - and was its President for four years. In addition, she was a member of the Board of the Canadian Council on Social Development for six years. In 1975 she brought the provincial riding of Beaches-Woodbine back into the NDP fold, the riding having been lost to the Tories in 1971. She retained the seat through the next four elections until her retirement in 1990. During her 15 years in the Legislature (a record for any woman), she served as critic for a wide range of portfolios, including treasury and economics, revenue, environment, women's issues, colleges and universities and intergovernmental affairs. Memorial Mass will be held at Corpus Christi Church on February 23, 2013 at 11 a.m., located at 16 Lockwood Road, Toronto.

Published in the Toronto Star on Feb. 18, 2013
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