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Pat Carney, former MP, senator, remembered as kind, ‘wise leader’

Former member of Parliament, senator and trailblazer died late Tuesday at 88
Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, along with Trade Minister Pat Carney, makes a statement after a day of briefing premiers on the state of the North American trade talks in this Sept. 14, 1987 file photo in Ottawa. Carney, a former member of Parliament, a senator and a trailblazer, died Tuesday at the age of 88. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Mitchell

Pat Carney is being remembered as a problem-solver, a groundbreaker, a feminist, a mentor and a friend.

The former member of Parliament, senator and trailblazer died late Tuesday at the age of 88.

Politicians and those who she helped recalled her tenacity, leadership and “immense contributions” that left an indelible mark on Canada and specifically British Columbia.

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who has known Carney since the 1980s, said she was “an underappreciated Canadian hero.”

“I owe her so much because she never hesitated to give me really good advice,” May said in an interview on Thursday, adding that she was so blessed that “Carney always took her under her wing.”

She posted on social media that she is heartbroken over the loss of the “extraordinary woman,” mentor, friend, feminist, and great Canadian.

May, who is recovering from a mild stroke, said one of the things that she and Carney always talked about doing was sitting down with a tape recorder and talking about women in politics.

“We saw eye-to-eye on so many things and I am very, very honoured to have been her friend.”

May met Carney while working at the Ministry of Environment in the 1980s and Carney was the lead minister for the Conservatives in the B.C. caucus.

May said she had been trying to stop logging on southern Haida Gwaii, off northern B.C., and while many members of the Conservative caucus in B.C. were pro-logging, Carney was not.

“She was very outspoken.”

They both helped in the creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, said May.

Carney taught her many things, including to take credit where it was due, something May said she didn’t care about.

“She took me to task for that and she said, ‘Elizabeth, you have to get credit, you are a woman in politics. No one will ever give you any credit,’” she said.

May said it is Carney who deserves the credit for what she did for the country.

“She was just, and she will always be a remarkable Canadian,” said May.

Former Conservative MP John Reynolds said in an interview on Thursday that Carney was highly intelligent and was able to work with people to accomplish many goals both in Parliament and the Senate.

“She was a great lady, really was great for British Columbia. She always did a good job in things we needed to get done in our province.”

Reynolds, 82, said Carney was exceptional when someone had a problem and he often referred people to her if they needed help.

“She would never be afraid to pick up the phone and say, ‘hey, let’s get this done,’” he said. “She was very, very good. She always followed through.”

The family confirmed Wednesday that Carney died in hospital after being admitted over the weekend.

Janice McAdam, her former assistant, said Carney had been in and out of hospital recently.

Carney had a long list of female firsts, beginning with her career in journalism in the 1960s when she became the first female business columnist writing for the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province newspapers.

She was elected to the House of Commons in 1980 in the riding of Vancouver Centre and was the first female cabinet minister in the portfolios of energy, trade and the Treasury Board, under former prime minister Brian Mulroney.

She was also the first female senator appointed from B.C.

Carney authored “Trade Secrets: A Memoir” in 2000, and “On Island: Life Among the Coast Dwellers,” a 2017 collection of fictional short stories. Before entering politics, she co-authored “Tiara and Atigi,” an account of the 1970 royal tour of the Northwest Territories.

Many sang Carney’s praises on social media.

Senator Donna Dasko said Carney was a firm advocate of women’s equality and one of the most forceful women she has ever met.

Former Liberal MP Jody Wilson-Raybould said she was saddened to hear of Carney’s death, calling her a “kind, generous and wise leader.”

The Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden posted that it mourns the loss of an exceptional leader while it celebrates the immense contributions she made to the city of Vancouver.

It noted that as the MP in Vancouver Centre, Carney was instrumental in getting federal funding for the initial phase of construction for the Ming garden, the only one outside of China.

There will be no public service. McAdam said Carney had said she preferred a private memorial with family and friends in attendance.

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