Elizabeth Shaughnessy Cohen

Key Facts

– Born: February 11, 1948, Thamesville, Ontario
– worked as a Teaching Master for St. Clair College of Applied Arts and Technology (both Windsor and Chatham campuses) from 1970 to 1974
– admitted to the bar in 1979, then practiced criminal and union-sided labour law in Windsor from 1979 to 1993
– elected to represent the federal riding of Windsor-St. Clair in 1993; re-elected in 1997 (Liberal)
– First female Windsor Member of Parliament
Died: in office, December 09, 1998

Ms Cohen (nee Murray) was raised in the small town of Thamesville Ontario, where her father, Bruce Murray, operated the local pharmacy and served as a school board trustee.  Elizabeth Shaughnessy CohenFrom early in her life she was exposed to politics: Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau were personal heroes.

She studied at the University of Windsor, and later entered private law practise in Windsor after being admitted to the bar in 1979. Prior to running for public office, Ms Cohen also worked part time as Assistant Crown Attorney, and Federal Prosecutor for the County of Essex.  In addition she was Past President of Hiatus House (shelter for abused women) and sat on the Board for Brentwood Recovery Home, Hospice of Windsor, and The Infant and Family Program of Windsor and Essex County.

Ms Cohen came to Ottawa as part of the federal Liberal sweep of 1993, defeating the incumbent Howard McCurdy for the riding of Windsor-St. Clair. In 1997 she was easily re-elected. Ms Cohen distinguished herself in committee work, including serving as the Chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. While in office she earned a reputation as an outspoken and tenacious parliamentarian. In private, she was witty as well as enthusiastic.

Ms Cohen was married to Jerome Cohen, a professor at the University of Windsor.

Ms Cohen died of a burst aneurysm, collapsing at her seat in the House of Commons, on December 9, 1998.  In 2000, as a tribute to Ms. Cohen, the Writer’s Trust of Canada established a prize in her name to recognize authors of nonfiction works that capture a subject of Canadian political interest.

Sources:

Cohen, Elizabeth Shaughnessy, B.A. , M.A. , LL.B.” (website) Parliament of Canada. ParlInfo. Members of the House of Commons.

“Deaths: Cohen, Shaughnessy” Windsor Star, December 11, 1998.

“Liberal MP’s charm won friends in all parties”. Globe and Mail, December 10, 1998.

Shaugnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing“. Canadian Encyclopedia, [online edition].

“Shaughnessy loved the game”. Windsor Star, December 10, 1998.