A pioneer in the Canadian Armed Forces, Karen McCrimmon the Liberal Party candidate for the riding of Kanata-Carelton, was the first woman in Canadian history to command a CAF flying squadron.
McCrimmon began her 31-year career in the military as an administration clerk in an Army Reserve unit as she finished her Bachelor’s degree at the University of Windsor. After five years as a reservist, she transferred to the regular force as a navigator in 1980.
McCrimmon became the first woman to be a navigator in the CAF. She recalls this time of her life as “very challenging and very rewarding.”
McCrimmon has 5000 hours of flying time under her wing, visiting over 60 countries around the world.
“I know how fortunate we are to live in a country like Canada. I got to experience that first hand,” stated McCrimmon.
In 1998, McCrimmon became the Commanding Officer of 429 Transport Squadron in Trenton, making her the first woman in the CAF history to command a flying squadron.
“That was a challenge and something I will think fondly of for the rest of my life. It was a grand adventure and I worked hard to set a solid example of leadership, teamwork and service. I believe leadership is about setting an example,” recalled McCrimmon.
McCrimmon retired from the forces in 2006. Looking back on her career she is grateful not only to her family but all military families.
“I thank everyone for stepping up to serve their country and all the families. All those years I was Squadron Commander, or deployed or on missions it was my family that stepped up and made it so I could do something. That’s the military family. They give so much, they sacrifice so much and I thank them for everything they’ve done, all members of all military families,” said McCrimmon.
After retiring, McCrimmon went back to school to study mediation and negotiation and used those skills to start a small business. But soon she “got distracted by politics” and decided to enter the race.
“I did not agree with the direction the current government was taking our country, I didn’t like the approach and didn’t like the priorities. And I thought you can complain about it or do something and I decided I was going to do something,” said McCrimmon.
McCrimmon believes the Liberal Party has a sense of balance.
“We have a long-term vision and a plan. The Liberal Party works hard on unity and getting people to work together and appreciates all of our differences instead of trying to exploit them and pitting one group of people against another. I like the focus on unity. I feel like this was a party, like me, that wants a collaborative approach to politics,” explained McCrimmon.
McCrimmon looks at a career in politics as just another way of serving.