Alexa McDonough was a hero – United Steelworkers

TORONTO – The United Steelworkers union (USW) is paying tribute to the memory and solidarity of Alexa McDonough, who, as leader of the federal New Democratic Party from 1995-2003, was instrumental in the unanimous passing of the Westray Bill, aimed at holding corporate leaders criminally accountable for workplace death and injury.

“Alexa is a hero for our union,” said USW National Director Ken Neumann. “She blazed a trail for women in politics and she engineered the successful passing of the Westray Bill, an important win for workers’ rights in Canada.”

Neumann said McDonough engineered the eventual unanimous vote in favour of the Westray Bill, which made significant changes to the Criminal Code.

2022 will mark the 30th anniversary of the tragic and deadly Westray coal mine explosion in Plymouth, Nova Scotia, that killed 26 miners on May 9, 1992. An inquiry concluded that the explosion was preventable, yet criminal charges against the mine’s managers were dropped.

“Ms. McDonough worked closely with our union and Lawrence McBrearty, who was the USW National Director until 2004,” said Neumann. “The law was passed unanimously by the House of Commons in 2003, and by the Senate in 2004.”

Neumann said the struggle to enforce what has come to be known as the Westray Law continues, as workers continue to be killed on the job – as we’ve seen tragically just this week, with a Steelworker killed at Interfor in B.C., and one worker killed and five more presumed dead from the Eastway Tank explosion in Nepean, Ont.

McBrearty said the struggle for workers’ lives and safety continues almost 20 years after the law was passed.

“Alexa McDonough brought it to the House of Commons, and was with us all the way.” McBrearty said. “She was a true champion of workers’ rights.”

The United Steelworkers union extends condolences to Alexa’s family, friends and to her broader political family.


For further information:

Ken Neumann, USW National Director, 416-544-5951
Kim Hume, USW Communications, khume@usw.ca, 416-544-6002

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