Parliamentary Relatives: Spouses.

AuthorWinters, Nellie

Municipally, provincially, and federally, governing bodies across Canada have seen numerous political families. Parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, brothers, sisters, in-laws--direct and extended-family dynasties are scattered throughout the nation's political history.

Entrenched among these narratives are those of parliamentarians linked by love rather than blood. Of known couples, partners have often served in the House of Commons sequentially rather than simultaneously. Notably, many widows ran in subsequent elections after the deaths of their husbands.

This article, however, looks at Members of Parliament who worked concurrently as colleagues and spouses.

Nina and Gurmant Grewal

Nina and Gurmant Grewal were the first legally married couple to serve as Members of Parliament at the same time. Their road to Ottawa began on the other side of the world. Gurmant, born in India, and Nina, born in Japan, lived in Liberia together before immigrating to Canada. Gurmant was elected to the House of Commons in 1997 for the riding of Surrey Central in British Columbia winning re-election in 2000. From 2004-2006, he represented Newton--North Delta. He did not seek re-election for the Conservative Party of Canada in January 2006. Nina Grewal sat in the House of Commons through four Parliaments from 2004 to 2015 for the riding of Fleetwood--Port Kells, advocating as a member of the Conservative Party of Canada for legislation against identity theft, among other issues.

Jack Layton and Olivia Chow

The New Democratic Party (NDP) also had a power couple in recent years: Jack Layton and Olivia Chow. Layton was first elected as a Toronto councillor in 1982 and during the 1985 Metropolitan Toronto Council elections, he began dating school board trustee candidate Olivia Chow. They were married in 1988. Chow was elected to the Metro Toronto Council in 1991. In 2003, Layton became leader of the NDP and was elected to the House of Commons for Toronto--Danforth in 2004. After two attempts in 1997 and 2004, Chow was successful in winning the federal seat of Trinity--Spadina in 2006. The two followed the Grewals as the second simultaneously serving legally married couple in parliamentary history. Less than four months after Layton led the NDP to its most successful election result in 2011, he passed away as Leader of the Opposition. In 2014, Chow resigned her seat to run for mayor of Toronto.

Rahim Jaffer and Helena Guergis

First elected in...

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