Marlene Catterall – 2019 Distinguished Service Award

The Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians (CAFP) is pleased to announce Marlene Catterall as the 2019 recipient of its Distinguished Service Award. The award was presented in Ottawa on Monday, June 3rd, by the Speakers of the Senate and the House of Commons. Both are Honorary Co-Chairs of CAFP.


A teacher by profession, Marlene Catterall was already an established local politician when she was elected as Liberal MP for Ottawa-West on November 21st, 1988. She had been an alderman on Ottawa City Council from 1976 to 1985 and had run for Mayor of Ottawa. Marlene was successfully re-elected in her federal constituency in 1993, 1997, 2000, and 2004, before retiring from federal politics in 2006. She served as Chief Government Whip, Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, and Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, among her many parliamentary duties.


Marlene was an able organizer and effective grassroots politician who championed many causes during her career in municipal and federal politics. But her most enduring and passionate cause was the advancement and empowerment of women in public life. Her political antennae were finely attuned to the many ways in which our institutions and practices systematically held women back and she never missed an opportunity to ensure that women were properly represented or that gender balance was applied, where it could and needed to be.


As the first woman, to hold the position of Chief Government Whip, she has been hailed as a person of great integrity and devotion to the parliamentary process who understood how crucial this role was in the function of parliament and in the guidance of new parliamentarians.

Marlene was an active member of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians and served on the Board of the Association for 8 years, from 2008 to 2016 and was the treasurer for five years, from 2011 to 2016.

Marlene is married to Ron Catterall and together they have three children: Karen, Chris and Cheryl and six grandchildren.