Judy Erola

Judy Erola - CKSOBirthplace
Sudbury, Ontario

January 16, 1934

First Media Job
Circa 1949 - CHNO Radio, Sudbury, Ontario

From her humble beginning in AM radio and the golden age of television, to a busy, high profile political career, Judy Erola has become known for setting several precedents and for her countless accomplishments.

Her very early broadcasting career start was in radio at CHNO AM when the paint on the walls had just barely dried. The new broadcast undertaking had only signed on some two years prior to Judy’s arrival at the tender young age of 15. From the very beginning her energy and ambition were evident as she tirelessly worked first at copywriting, then on air and eventually every job with the exceptions of engineering and management.

Judy moved over to CKSO TV when it signed on in 1953. There, in addition to her energetic style, Judy demonstrated versatility in carrying out various jobs and tasks. She became the first woman employed by a Canadian television station as a weather reporter. Judy would host or cohost various local live television programs including segments on fashion.

It was around this time when Judy married Vic Erola. The Erola’s owned and operated Whitehead’s Marina on Lake Panache in the Sudbury District. The couple raised their two daughters while Judy continued to work part-time. She eventually went back to CHNO fulltime writing advertising copy. In time she was appointed Continuity Director leaving her in charge of that department. Judy became the first woman broadcasting account executive in Sudbury. Even with her titles, Judy did it all, coming up with ideas, selling, writing and sometimes voicing the commercials.

The 1977 death of her husband left Judy devastated and she chose to take on a new direction in her life, just what the doctor may have ordered. She entered the world of federal politics. In 1979 Judy won the Liberal nomination for Nickel Belt riding. The Conservatives took that election with NDP’s John Rodriguez representing the area, but the defeat of John Crosbie’s budget led to another election in 1980 in which Trudeau and the Liberals won sending Judy to Ottawa for the next four years.

As Member of Parliament for the Nickel Belt riding, Judy became part of Pierre Trudeau’s final cabinet and over her time in the House of Commons held several portfolios. These included Minister of State for Mines, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women, Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and Minister of State for Social Development. In 1982 Judy Erola became the first woman to be appointed to the powerful cabinet of Priorities and Planning Committee which has final say on government policy.

Erola’s August of 1983 appointment to Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs came with fortitude and tenacity on her part as she was determined to focus on consumer issues, often facing some of her most public battles of her political career. She fought against the continued implementation of the metric system. She proposed legislation to put a limit on corporate mergers involving newspaper publishing but eventually gave up on that particular issue. The 1984 federal election spelled defeat for the Liberals and for Erola as she lost to NDP’s John Rodriguez.

While in office, Judy Erola’s influence was instrumental in obtaining federal support for Science North projects to the tune of five million dollars granted in July of 1982. Another half million was provided in 1984 for the 3-D film “Wilderness”. In addition to funding the federal government donated weather station equipment to Science North’s Atmosphere component and a seismic monitoring station to Geosphere. In her unwavering commitment to her riding Erola was successful in advocating for laid-off miners by securing several hundred thousand dollars dedicated to job creation towards the expansion of the Big Nickel Mine in 1982 and 1983. These funds enabled Science North to directly hire workers affected by the mine layoffs.

Laurentian University’s Centre for Mining and Mineral Exploration Research would also benefit from federal funding as a result of Mrs. Erola’s perseverance.

In 1987 Erola became president of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association of Canada. She retired from that position twelve years later in December of 1998.

She is the recipient of numerous honorary recognitions including a Doctorate degree of Human Letters Honoris Causa from Mount St. Vincent University in 1992, an Honorary Doctorate of Laws, awarded in 1996 by Laurentian University, an Honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Ottawa also in 1996, and a Degree of Doctorate of Laws Honoris Causa in 2011 from Carlton University. Erola has been recognized as a Life Member of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada and Life Member of Science North Sudbury.

Judy also served as President of the Child Health Institute of Canada and Director of Health Partners International. She is also credited with serving as Chair of the University of Ottawa Health Administration Program Advisory Board and participating on the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s Relationship with Healthcare Industry Task Force.

Never letting grass grow under her feet, Judy’s next focus was her participation on the board of Equal Voice. This is an organization which seeks to assist Canadian women in running for political office. Continuing in the realm of political involvement Erola attended the Liberal Party of Canada leadership election in 2006 as an ex officio delegate. Stéphane Dion won that leadership race following the resignation of Paul Martin.

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