- [December 31, 1923] - December 14, 2007
Lois (née Dowson) Bédard was born in 1923 in Weston, Ontario – to a working-class family of 7 children. Mother, Mary Brittania Dowson worked as a stenographer and father, Walter L. Dowson, was a printer. Lois Bédard was notable for her activism in the Canadian Trotskyist movement and for promoting feminist causes, both independently, and through union activism, increasingly from the 1960s to the early 2000s.
Lois Bédard earned her Bachelor’s degree from York Memorial Collegiate and her Master’s of Education from the University of Toronto. In the late 1940s, she married Jean-Marie Bédard: a prominent Québec union activist and committed socialist, who served as president of the Quebec Socialist Party (PSQ) from 1966-1968.
Lois Bédard was one of the few women involved in the Canadian Trotskyist movement. In 1946, her fellow sibling activist, Ross Dowson, had led the Canadian branch of the Trotskyist movement, called, “The Revolutionary Workers Party (RWP.)” In 1974, Lois Bédard was among the members that split from the Canadian Trotskyist group to become a member of the Socialist League, (or the “Forward Group,”) along with founding member, Ross Dowson.
Throughout her activist career, Lois Bédard promoted feminist causes, both independently, and within the labour movement. She was a founding member of Organized Working Women, in 1977, which promoted women’s rights in the workplace and advocated for their involvement in traditional labour organizations. They adopted, “A Woman’s Place is in Her Union,” as one of their slogans. She served on the first executive council of Organized Working Women, before becoming its president, early in 1986.
Lois Bédard lobbied for pay equity between men and women and for women’s rights to free universal childcare. In 1980 she presented a brief to the Ontario Legislative Committee Hearings into Bill 3 – an Act to Amend the Ontario Employment Standards Act. The brief was entitled “Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value.”