She was the recipient of abusive threats and bomb scares. Political cartoons routinely made fun of her physical appearance and a critical newspaper editorial was published about her late arrival at a budget meeting. She had been at her dying mother’s bedside. Once an effigy of her was burned right outside the window of her office.
Susan Thompson’s autobiography gives you some insight into just how tough a politician’s life can be and when you are the first female mayor of your city, in charge of thirty departments headed almost exclusively by men things can be even tougher.
After I finished reading Her Worship I felt respect for Susan Thompson. She believed being the mayor of Winnipeg was her calling and she pursued the office and carried out her duties with dedication.
I learned many things about Susan Thompson from her autobiography I didn’t know. Here are just three.
- She was at the helm of our city during some of its finest as well as darkest hours. During her two terms in office Winnipeg won the bid to host the Pan Am Games and hosted the International Winter Cities Conference and Showcase. Susan was also mayor when Winnipeg lost the Jets hockey team and during the flood of 1997.
- Susan left a promising career in Montreal as the principal jewelry buyer for a large department store chain where postings to Hong Kong or Florence waited in the wings for her, in order to return to Winnipeg and take over her father’s struggling saddlery business when he was diagnosed with cancer.
- As part of her election platform Susan said she would not accept a city pension. Her saddlery business closed down while she was in office. So Susan continues to work to support herself and to honor her commitment to be of public service. Since her time as mayor she has had positions as an executive consultant for the Winnipeg Airport Authority, as Canadian Consul General in Minneapolis, chief executive officer of the University of Winnipeg Foundation and in 2014 accepted a contract as fundraising consultant for the new Inuit Art Centre at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
You will want to read Susan Thompson’s book yourself to find out even more about our city’s first and to this point only female mayor. Clearly she has many friends and supporters and she is generous in giving them credit both for her political victories, personal achievements and as the sponsors who made the writing of her autobiography possible.