A long-time Hope resident was honoured on Saturday for her dedication and service to the provincial NDP.
Former NDP MLAs Gwen O’Mahony and Harry Lali presented 92-year-old Marjorie Houghton with a framed certificate from BC NDP president Craig Keating in recognition of her “lifetime of dedication to the New Democratic Party and the principles of social democracy on which it is founded.”
The certificate also included one of Houghton’s favourite quotes from JS Woodsworth, “What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all.” The quote was engraved on a pendant as well, which was gifted to Houghton by the local riding association.
“We are a movement that has always depended upon the efforts of volunteers like you,” said Keating, in a statement read at the Hope Station House luncheon. “Volunteer work like yours is the thing that has always sustained us – and always will. Your example is one that I will carry with me when I speak to members across the province.”
The luncheon, hosted by the Chilliwack-Hope NDP riding association, was in appreciation of Houghton’s lifetime of political and community work. About three dozen close friends, family and party dignitaries were in attendance.
Chilliwack-Hope federal president Al Ens discussed how instrumental Houghton was when she became the first president of the newly formed provincial Chilliwack-Hope riding association. The new boundaries, which were established in 2008, presented geographical challenges. Ens pointed out how important it was to have leadership in the Hope area and Houghton grabbed the reins, including turning her home into a meeting place for the party. Ens presented Houghton with a T-Shirt with a vintage CCF campaign image.
The two former MLAs, who have both represented the Hope area, also gave impassioned speeches of Houghton’s support to them and to the party over many decades. Lali drew applause from the audience when he spoke about the importance of honouring lifelong members, like Houghton, who built the party.
“Not very many people remember a Canada without universal health care, Canada pension, worker’s compensation, employment insurance or child tax benefits,” added O’Mahony. “These were the ‘radical’ ideas put forward by the CCF when Marjorie first joined the party.”
Houghton’s son Doug and daughters Rita, Suzanne and Joanne shared stories about their mother’s commitment to give back to one’s community and care for others. Joanne spoke about how her mom inspired her to found an orphanage. At times, tears flowed, at times there was laughter. Rita recounted seeing a majestic orange sunset as a young child and describing it as an “NDP” sunset. Suzanne talked about her mother’s political aspirations when she ran for council in Maple Ridge and founded the Outpost, a community-run newspaper.