Lincoln Alexander, 1922-2012

Former Progressive Conservative MP Lincoln Alexander, the first black MP in Canadian history, has passed away at the age of 90.

Discrimination isn’t good for anybody – the abusers or the victims – but Lincoln Alexander was one of those stalwart souls who could turn rejections and despicable slurs into a personal challenge to excel. As a boy he learned to “walk tall,” as a young man he chose a career where he could be self-employed, as a law student he spoke out when a dean casually used the racist example of “a nigger in the woodpile” to make a point in class, and when mainstream law firms ignored him, he joined forces with another member of a minority to make his independent way.

And always he followed his mother’s advice about the advantages of education. Consequently, this son of a hotel maid and a railway porter, became the first member of his family to go to university, the first black Member of Parliament, the first black federal Cabinet Minister, the first black Chair of the Worker’s Compensation Board, the first black Lieutenant-Governor, and the first person to serve five terms as Chancellor of the University of Guelph.

Stephen Harper, Bob Rae and Thomas Mulcair pay tribute.