Judy Erola

Judy Erola - CKSOBirthplace
Sudbury, Ontario

Birth Date
January 16, 1934

First Media Job
Circa 1949 - CHNO Radio, Sudbury, Ontario

Judy Erola was to become known for many things as well as broadcasting.  As an MP for the Nickel Belt riding, she served as Minister of Mines and Minister responsible for the Status of Women in Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet.

In 1982 she was the first woman appointed to the powerful cabinet of priorities and planning committee which has final say on government policy.  In August of 1983 Erola was moved from the Ministry of Mines and was appointed Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.  Along with her determination to focus on consumer issues with great fortitude and tenacity, came some of her most public battles of her political career.  She fought against the continued implementation of the metric system.  She proposed legislation to put a limit on corporate mergers involving newspaper publishing but would eventually give up on this issue.  The 1984 federal election spelled defeat for the Liberals and for Erola as she lost to NDP’s John Rodriguez.

Her career start was in radio and television broadcasting in Sudbury in the 1950’s, where she also achieved several firsts.  She was just 15 when she began developing a reputation for possessing great energy and in fact was already initiated into the radio industry as a copy writer with CHNO AM in Sudbury.  That station had been on the air only since 1947.  She found herself doing nearly every job but engineering and management.

She moved over to CKSO TV when it signed on in 1953 again proving herself to be so versatile and energetic.  On TV she became the first woman employed by a Canadian television station as a weather reporter.

It was around this time when Judy married Vic Erola and the two raised two daughters.  Judy continued to work part-time while raising the girls.

She eventually went back to CHNO fulltime writing advertising copy.  She eventually was put in charge of that department as Continuity Director.  She would assume another first in her accomplishments becoming the first woman broadcasting account executive in Sudbury.  Even with her titles, Judy did it all, coming up with ideas, selling, writing and sometimes voicing the commercials.

As a result of her husband’s death in 1977, Judy was devastated and decided that a new direction in her life would be just what the doctor ordered.  She decided to enter the world of politics.  In 1979 Judy won the Liberal nomination for Nickel Belt riding.  The Conservatives took that election with NDP’s John Rodriguez representing the area, but the defeat of John Crosbie’s budget led to another election in 1980 in which Trudeau and the Liberals won sending Judy to Ottawa for the next four years.

She became part of Pierre Trudeau's final cabinet and over her time in the House of Commons held several portfolios.  These included, Minister of State for Mines, Minister of State for Social Development, Minister responsible for the Status of Women and Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs.  Erola also became the first woman to be appointed to the cabinet's priorities and planning committee.  This would be considered to be a most influential appointment considering that this committee is responsible for debating and deciding on the direction of government policy.

Judy Erola’s influence was instrumental in obtaining Federal support for Science North projects to the tune of $5 million in July of 1982.  Another half million was provided in 1984 for the 3-D film “Wilderness”.  In addition to funding the federal government donated weather station equipment to Science North’s Atmosphere component and a seismic monitoring station to Geosphere.  In her unwavering commitment to her riding, the Nickel Belt, Erola was successful in advocating for laid-off miners by securing several hundred thousand dollars dedicated to job creation towards the expansion of the Big Nickel Mine in 1982 and 1983.  These funds enabled Science North to directly hire workers affected by the mine layoffs.

Laurentian University’s Centre for Mining and Mineral Exploration Research would also benefit from Federal funding as a result of Mrs.  Erola’s tenacity.

In 1987, Erola became president of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association of Canada.  She retired from that position twelve years later in December of 1998.

She is the recipient of numerous honorary recognitions including a Doctorate degree of Human Letters Honoris Causa from Mount St.  Vincent University in 1992, an Honorary Doctorate of Laws, awarded in 1996 by Laurentian University, an Honorary Doctorate degree from the University of Ottawa, in 1996, Life Member of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada and Life Member of Science North Sudbury.
Judy also served as President of the Child Health Institute of Canada and Director of Health Partners International.  She is also credited with serving as Chair of the University of Ottawa Health Administration Program Advisory Board and participating on the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s Relationship with Healthcare Industry Task Force.

Never letting grass grow under her feet, Judy’s next focus was her participation on the board of Equal Voice.  This is an organization which seeks to assist Canadian women in running for political office.