Former Canadian political leader Ed Broadbent, a social democracy stalwart, dies at 87

Former Canadian political leader Ed Broadbent, a social democracy stalwart, dies at 87

TORONTO (AP) — Ed Broadbent, a social democracy stalwart who helped build up Canada’s leftist New Democratic Party, has died. He was 87.

The Broadbent Institute, the Ottawa-based think tank he founded in 2011 to promote social and economic justice, announced his death Thursday. It not give a cause of death.

The institute called Broadbent “a fierce champion for ordinary Canadians.”

Many in Canada remember him as a tireless fixture of federal debate in the 1970s and 1980s, going toe-to-toe with four different prime ministers, including Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney.

“Ed devoted decades of his life to fighting for justice and equality in Canada and around the world,” the Broadbent Institute said. “He was a rare intellectual who could connect the challenges faced by ordinary citizens with the movements and institutions striving for economic democracy.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that “Canada is better off” thanks to Broadbent’s “selfless service.”

“An advocate for equality and champion for justice, his commitment to helping others never wavered,” Trudeau said.

Broadbent represented his blue-collar hometown of Oshawa, Ontario, in the House of Commons for 21 years, including 14 as national leader of the New Democratic Party, from 1975 to 1989. He briefly served as the member of Parliament for Ottawa Centre from 2004 to 2006.

Under his leadership, the New Democratic Party steadily expanded its seat count in the House of Commons — from 17 in 1974 to 43 in 1988, a high that stood until the late Jack Layton led the party into official opposition status in 2011 with 103 seats.

Broadbent also left his mark on Canada’s version of the bill of rights after then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau reached out to him for help in elevating the text of the document.

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