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Joy Taylor, an unflappable lifelong progressive who died on Sept. 1, wasn’t afraid to take on anyone, including Stephen Harper.
In a YouTube video shot by Operation Maple when she was 88, the Scarborough woman steps into a Toronto boxing ring as Tiger Taylor and tells the former prime minister she’s coming for him.
One of her videos below
“I may be old, but I’ll take you on any day for the old people,” Taylor tells the camera before pretending to knock Harper out.
Born Joy Marie Courtney in Newfoundland, she never lost her sharp sense of humour — introduced to this reporter, she gave her name as “Marilyn Monroe” — or her commitment to social justice and helping people in need.
People say Taylor, who was 94, wrote hundreds, possibly thousands, of letters to newspapers over her lifetime. She also wrote CEOs of large companies, trying to shame them for taking huge salaries.
“She was young in spirit. She was like a 30-year-old,” said Catherine Brandsma, a friend.
Taylor wanted to be as charitable as her parents — her father, who took her to hear Tommy Douglas speak, and her mother, who fed strangers during the Depression.
While in hospital recently, Brandsma recalled, Taylor gave her a boiled egg saved from breakfast and insisted she eat it. “She would say it was the Newfoundlander in her.”
Taylor cared for her late husband, Ed, many years before he died. She is survived by two brothers, two children, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, said Heather Kibbey, her niece and mayor of Rivergrove, Oregon.
In politics, “Joy was absolutely my mentor, and I took my direction from her,” Kibbey said.
“Personally, I think Donald Trump kept her going for quite a while.”
Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said Taylor “spent her entire life speaking out on behalf of those less fortunate and fighting for social change and a better world.”
Her presence in Scarborough, Mulcair said, “will be sorely missed by all who knew and respected her active work in support of social justice.”
Only once, in 2013, did Taylor break from her beloved NDP, at least the provincial party.
During a nomination in Scarborough-Guildwood, Taylor, the riding secretary, became convinced some “walk-in” voters supporting former Toronto councillor Adam Giambrone as a candidate voted improperly.
When the provincial NDP refused to allow a third-party investigation, Taylor quit. “I find it rather sad that a party I supported by volunteering and donations for 74 years has now branded me a crazy old woman,” she said.
Taylor, however, kept volunteering for NDP campaigns. “Even to the end, she was making cute little teddy bears with NDP outfits on them, to sell for the benefit of the party,” Kibbey said.
Viresh Raghubeer, a party member and friend, called Taylor’s compassion and kindness “unmatched”, and said she showed love to all. “Often, she cried over the suffering of those facing struggles both locally and in far-off lands,” said Raghubeer.
All are welcome to celebrate Taylor’s life on Oct. 14 at Toronto Public Library’s Cedarbrae Branch from 6 to 8 p.m.