Dorothy Corney, champion of social justicce, dies

She was a lifelong friend of Tommy Douglas, personal secretary to former Manitoba Premier Ed Schreyer and a thorn in the side of anyone who would tread on the rights of others.

Dorothy Corney unveils a plaque outside Red Deer City Hall reaffirming the city’s status as a nuclear weapons free zone in 2004.

Dorothy Corney unveils a plaque outside Red Deer City Hall reaffirming the city’s status as a nuclear weapons free zone in 2004.

She was a lifelong friend of Tommy Douglas, personal secretary to former Manitoba Premier Ed Schreyer and a thorn in the side of anyone who would tread on the rights of others.

Literally born into the movement that created the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, the foundation from which the New Democratic Party was built, Dorothy Corney brought to Red Deer her commitment to social justice and her staunch belief that words mean nothing without action.

Born Dorothy Snyder in Moose Jaw, Sask. on July 20, 1923, she became politically active in her early teens and was a vocal champion of social justice throughout her life, says her daughter, Brenda Corney.

Dorothy finally moved to Red Deer after years of commuting from Winnipeg to visit with her husband, David, founder during the early 1970s of Faith Farms Cheese — sold in he early 80s to Alpha Milk — and a political rival in the early 1950s of Conservative leader John Diefenbaker, prime minister of Canada from 1957 to 1963.

Dorothy wasted no time getting involved with social change in Red Deer, leading a campaign in the late 1980s to have the city declared a “nuclear free zone.”

She gathered 4,260 signatures on a petition in the summer of 1989 ­— enough to force a plebiscite during municipal elections that fall. Of the 13,080 people who cast ballots, 76 per cent were in support of the declaration.

“Nuclear Free Zone” was included on entry signs the were subsequently posted at the south and 67th-Street entries to the city, says Red Deer city archivist Michael Dawe.

The two signs have since been changed, but a plaque describing Corney’s efforts has been placed near the steps at the west entrance to City Hall.

Dorothy Corney died on Saturday after struggling in recent years with failing health.

She was predeceased by her husband, David in 1996 and leaves three adult children, Brenda Corney, Faith Wichuk and Paul Corney, along with eight grandchildren.

A memorial services is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Sunnybrook United Church, 12 Stanton Street, Red Deer.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com