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Darcy was born in Denmark and came to Canada with her parents when she was 18 months old. Her father was a research chemist who a shipping clerk for years until he could re-establish his credentials in Canada and resume work in his profession.
She was raised in Sarnia, and moved to Toronto to study political science at York University but quit after 1â˝ years, but not before infiltrating and disrupting the Miss Canadian University Pageant yelling "It's true it's a meat market and they do exploit women!" as the winner was announced. After travelling and doing odd jobs, she became a University of Toronto library clerk in 1972 and became active in CUPE.
In her youth, Darcy was active with the Workers' Communist Party of Canada, a Maoist group, and was a candidate for the party in the 1981 Ontario provincial election in the Toronto riding of St. Andrewâ€”St. Patrick. By 1985, she had left the party and joined the New Democratic Party saying of her earlier radicalism ""I'm older, I don't think we're going to remake the world, but we've got to change what we can."
By the mid-1980s, she was president of the Metro Toronto Council of CUPE.
In 1986, she ran for the position of Ontario president of CUPE challenging 10-year incumbent Lucie Nicholson. She was unsuccessful, losing by a margin of 318-240, her defeat blamed on a red-baiting campaign by the union's leadership. Darcy, however, did manage to retain a spot on the union's executive board topping the slate of "member at large" positions.
By 1988, she was first vice-president of CUPE's Ontario division as well as a vice-president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. In 1989, she successfully ran for the position of national secretary-treasurer of CUPE, the union's number two position. saying that said she stands for strong leadership to help CUPE cope with "some of the incredibly difficult challenges we'll see in the next few years, especially in light of free trade."
In the 1988 federal election, Darcy was the NDP's candidate against Liberal Frank Stronach and Progressive Conservative John E. Cole in Yorkâ€”Simcoe placing a "distant third" in the suburban Toronto riding.
She moved to British Columbia subsequently and ran for the provincial British Columbia New Democratic Party nomination in Vancouver-Fairview but was upset by a businessman Gregor Robertson by a margin of 76 votes on the second ballot.
In February 2005, Darcy returned to work in the trade union movement acquiring a position as secretary-business manager and chief negotiator with British Columbia's Hospital Employees' Union. She was known as being on the left of the union and an advocate of issues such as employment equity and childcare.
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