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Former NDP MP and civil rights activist Howard McCurdy dead at 85

Last Updated Feb 22, 2018 at 6:09 am EDT

Howard McCurdy. (Courtesy Facebook)

WINDSOR, Ont. – Former New Democrat MP and civil rights activist Howard McCurdy has died at the age of 85.

Leslie McCurdy says her father died peacefully on Tuesday after suffering from cancer.

McCurdy — who was Canada’s second black MP after the late Lincoln Alexander — was elected as a New Democrat MP from Windsor, Ont., in 1984 and 1988 but was defeated in the 1993 federal election.

Prior to his career in federal politics, McCurdy served as an alderman in Windsor, and in 1962, founded the Guardian Club, a civil rights organization dedicated to fighting racial discrimination in the city.

In 1969, he was a founder and the first president of the National Black Coalition of Canada.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh posted a message on Twitter saying he was saddened to hear about the passing of McCurdy.

“He was a trailblazer — a powerful civil rights activist, our party’s first Black MP, and a role model from my hometown of Windsor,” said Singh.

Leslie McCurdy told Windsor radio station CKLW that she compared her dad to an American civil rights icon.

“He was the first black tenured professor in Canada, the first black head of the department head in Canada, and all these things that he accomplished, I remember looking like him like Canada’s Martin Luther King,” she said.

McCurdy, who was born in London, Ont., was a member of the Order of Canada and Order of Ontario.