Floyd Laughren is one of the “players” who steered the community from a one-industry town dependant on mining into a diversified regional capital and centre for post-secondary education and health care in northeastern Ontario.
Laughren has served Greater Sudbury as an educator, a politician, a champion at times of unpopular causes, such as occupational health and safety, and as a community leader.
He represented constituents in Nickel Belt for 27 years at Queen’s Park. In the early 1990s, he was one of a handful of politicians who kept Northern Ontario issues in the headlines and on the agenda.
Laughren moved to Sudbury in 1969 when he was hired by Cambrian College to teach economics. The young professor made an impression with the city’s union leaders, and he was encouraged to run for the New Democrats.
He was first elected in 1971 as part of Stephen Lewis’s team. By 1990, he had been an opposition member for almost 20 years and considered retiring from politics. Before he made a decision, a snap election took everyone by surprise. In September 1990, the New Democrats won a majority government for the first time in Ontario history. Laughren played a key role in the Bob Rae government.
The NDP were turfed from office by Mike Harris’s ultra-conservative Common Sense Revolution in 1995, but Laughren continued to represent Nickel Belt until he retired just before the 1998 election. He did not retire from public service. In 1998 he was asked to serve on the Ontario Energy Board, the Crown corporation responsible for regulating natural gas and electricity utilities in Ontario.
He has served on the Laurentian University board of governors, as well as on the boards of the Community Savings Credit Union of Sudbury, and the Sudbury Community Foundation. He has helped raise money for Dynamic Earth, and in 2005, he chaired the United Way campaign, which raised $1.5 million.
He chaired the Greater Sudbury Community Solutions Team to listen to citizens’ concerns and make recommendations about how to make amalgamation work. He has been honoured by Laurentian University and Cambrian College.