Family, colleagues and constituents said goodbye to “Lady Julia Munro” today.
She received the nickname for her gentility, patience, and civility in what is often the uncivil world of politics, serving six terms as Progressive Conservative MPP for York-Durham, then York-North, and finally York-Simcoe ridings.
By the time she retired last year, Munro was the longest-serving female member of Ontario’s provincial parliament, and possibly one of the most beloved.
A funeral service was held at Trinity United Church in Newmarket on Monday, where Rev. Leslie Sedore, formerly of Knox United in Sutton, told family and friends, “We come to give thanks for Julia’s life… Let us not just mourn, though mourn we must, but let us celebrate that life.”
Munro’s daughter, Genevieve Hay, shared stories and remembrances.
“She had a great impact on many lives – as a teacher, as a dog enthusiast, and later as a politician,” said Hay. “One of the lessons I learned from my mother was to be true to myself.”
Former colleague and MPP Norm Sterling also spoke, noting that Munro’s many friendships crossed party lines.
“Julia Munro wanted to do what was good for the people of Ontario,” Sterling said, describing her integrity, and innate honesty. “She was an exceptional politician. She came to Queen’s Park for the right reasons.”
Munro began her political career in 1995, as a newly-elected MPP. She was appointed Parliamentary Assistant to then-Premier Mike Harris, and over her career served in many capacities, including legislative committee chair, and, in Opposition, as critic for a number of portfolios.
Munro also presented several Private Member’s Bills. Shortly before her retirement, she put forward the Magna Carta Day Act, seeking recognition for the Magna Carta, signed in the 13th century in England, that provided the foundation for the rule of law and the fundamentals of democracy. A copy of the Magna Carta hung on her wall at Queen’s Park.
The Bill has passed Second Reading, but not Third.
Sterling noted that Munro’s goals were “to work hard and be accessible… She taught and lived to maintain democracy.”
Munro taught English and history for 24 years before entering the political arena. She had battled cancer once before in 2004. This time, said Sedore, “Parkinson’s and cancer took their toll.”
Munro passed away on June 12, at the age of 76. She is survived by her husband of 54 years, John; sister Cynthia Puente, and daughter Genevieve and son-in-law Andrew Hay.