Donald MacDonald

Donald MacDonald, trade unionist (b at Halifax 12 Sept 1909; d at Ottawa 25 Sept 1986). At age 17 MacDonald became a coal heaver on the Sydney docks. He joined the United Mine Workers and at age 21 became president of Local 4560.

MacDonald, Donald

Donald MacDonald, trade unionist (b at Halifax 12 Sept 1909; d at Ottawa 25 Sept 1986). At age 17 MacDonald became a coal heaver on the Sydney docks. He joined the United Mine Workers and at age 21 became president of Local 4560. When the local struck in 1940 for a guaranteed weekly minimum wage, MacDonald was fired and blacklisted. He had a long and active interest in the CO-OPERATIVE MOVEMENT, which gave him a job. He helped to organize successful co-operative ventures in NS in housing, credit union and consumer fields. In 1941 he was elected Co-operative Commonwealth Federation MLA from Cape Breton South. He was CCF party leader in the legislature until 1945. In 1942 he joined the organizing staff of the CANADIAN CONGRESS OF LABOUR (CCL), becoming regional director of the Maritimes in 1945 and secretary-treasurer and chief executive officer of the CCL in 1951.

He played a major role in the merger negotiations which created the CANADIAN LABOUR CONGRESS in 1956 from a merger of the CCL and the Trades and Labour Congress of Canada, being elected secretary treasurer at the founding convention. He was appointed acting president of the CLC in September 1967 and was elected president in 1968. He was re-elected in 1970 and 1972 and resigned in 1974. In 1972 he was the first non-European to be elected president of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, retiring in 1974. Among his many honours were the Order of Canada, the Canadian Centennial Medal and the Federal Republic of Germany Award of Merit.