MONCTON, N.B. — Known for her powerful hugs and an unrelenting commitment to community activism, former federal cabinet minister Claudette Bradshaw has died. She was 72.
Her son, Nick, confirmed Bradshaw died Saturday at her home in Moncton, N.B., after receiving treatments for Stage 4 lung cancer. He said he will always remember her "unflinching love," which he described as "instantaneous and brave."
"(It's) hard walking in this house and not finding it there waiting for me," he said via Facebook.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement Sunday praising Bradshaw for dedicating so much of her life to helping others.
"Because of that, there’s no doubt she changed the lives of many — and made this country a better place. My thoughts are with her loved ones today."
Born in Moncton, N.B., she spent years working in the non-profit sector, mainly advocating for at-risk youth and leading the Boys & Girls Club of Moncton. She was also well-known as a champion for marginalized people and a determined proponent for literacy, mental health and affordable housing.
Federal Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc issued a statement Sunday, saying he was saddened to learn of the death of his friend and former colleague.
“Her lifelong dedication to assisting those in need had an immense impact on countless Canadians,” LeBlanc said. “May her generosity and selflessness be an inspiration for those who will follow in her footsteps.”
Federal Official Languages Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor, who now holds Bradshaw’s former riding, issued a statement, saying her death will be deeply felt by everyone in Moncton.
“But her tireless devotion to those who needed a helping hand will have a lasting impact for decades to come,” Petitpas Taylor said. “Thank you Claudette for blazing a path, from social work to politics, for all women to follow.”
Elected as the member of Parliament for Moncton—Riverview—Dieppe in 1997, she was later appointed to serve in the cabinets of Liberal prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin.
In 2002, she stunned protocol officials when she bear-hugged the Queen during a visit to New Brunswick. But family and friends said the show of affection was classic Claudette.
As minister of labour, she led a successful bid to have Canada ratify the Convention on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. And it was during her term as labour minister that she also held the junior portfolio of minister responsible for homelessness.
She left politics before the 2006 federal election, but her commitment to helping others did not wane.
Bradshaw was later appointed co-ordinator for the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and she continued to help people in Moncton find affordable housing while working as co-chair of the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.
A member of the Order of New Brunswick, Bradshaw also received several community leadership awards and honorary degrees.
— By Michael MacDonald in Halifax
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2022.
The Canadian Press
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said Ginette Petitpas Taylor is the health minister. In fact, she is minister of official languages.