The Honourable Pat Carney, P.C.
Senator Emeritus

The Hon. Pat Carney, P.C. has made a major contribution to Canada’s political and economic development and has pioneered roles for women in both her professional and political life.  As a role model herself, she has had the distinction of being the ‘first” woman in many male dominated fields. 

In her journalism career in the l960’s, she was the first woman business columnist writing for major daily newspapers, including the Vancouver Province, the Vancouver Sun and national newspaper groups in Canada.  She served on the Economic Council of Canada under the chairmanship of Dr. Sylvia Ostry.

As an educator, she was a Canadian pioneer in the development of distance learning systems and in 1977 she received the British Columbia Institute of Technology award for Innovation in Education for “diligent and creative work” in the Satellite Tele-Education Program Hermes Project, one of 26 national projects to experiment with the world’s first geostationary interactive communications satellite.

In her political career in the 1980’s she was the first woman Conservative Member of Parliament ever elected in BC and the first woman Conservative appointed from BC to the Senate.

She was the first woman in every post she held, including first woman finance critic. She was the first woman appointed to the senior economic cabinet posts of Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources; Minister of International Trade; and President of Treasury Board in the cabinet of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (1984-1988).  She was also a member of the Cabinet Committee on Priorities and Planning, and the Minister Responsible for the Asia Pacific Initiative.

She was summoned to the Senate of Canada on August 30, 1990 and retired in March, 2008.

She has been a tireless advocate for arthritis research in Canada for more than 20 years.  In November, 2009 she was the recipient of the Centre of Excellence Canadian Arthritis Network Award of Merit in recognition of her “spirit of dedication and commitment” to the Network as a member of the Board of Directors.  Ms. Carney helped launch the first Canadian Arthritis Network sponsored study on rheumatoid arthritis among aboriginal populations.  She is a founding director of the Arthritis Research Centre of Canada.  She has also served on the Board of the Arthritis Society of BC and Yukon and received an honorary membership in 1998.

Her dedication to the preservation of Canada’s lighthouses and maritime history was recognized in 2008 with the creation of a new “Governors’ Award” by The Heritage Canada Foundation for her “extraordinary effort” in bringing about the enactment of heritage lighthouse protection legislation. She shared this award with Barry MacDonald of the Nova Scotia Lighthouse Preservation Society.

Born in Shanghai, China, and educated in Canada, Ms. Carney worked as a journalist and economic consultant in the Northwest Territories and Yukon before entering politics. She was first elected to the House of Commons in February 1980 in the riding of Vancouver Centre.  From 1980 to 1984 she was Opposition Critic for Energy, Mines and Resources; Finance; and Secretary of State.  She was re-elected in l984 and retired due to arthritis in l988.

As Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, she was responsible for the dismantling of the National Energy Program.  She replaced the NEP with the Western Accord, which deregulated the oil and gas industry, and she negotiated the Atlantic Accord with the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.  These negotiations established a market-oriented system for oil and natural gas, which is still in place 25 years later, and to the development of the Atlantic Offshore oil and gas resources. 

As Minister of International Trade, Minister Carney was mandated with the responsibility for the Free Trade negotiations with the United States and for Canada’s multilateral negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.  In January 1988, Minister Carney and her U.S. counterpart, Ambassador Clayton Yeutter, received an Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of International Law and Affairs from the New York Bar Association.

During her tenure as President of the Treasury Board, Minister Carney initiated a Task Force on Barriers to Women in the Public Service, and wrote the Foreword to the Task Force’s report Beneath the Veneer, which was released on April 23, 1990.  The report is considered a leader in the field of breaking the “glass ceiling” in the public service in Canada and abroad.

As a Senator, Ms. Carney served on several Senate Committees which included:  Chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources; Deputy Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee; Member of the Senate Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs, where she advanced the cause of aboriginal women; and Member of the Senate Fisheries Committee.  She also co-chaired the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on Lightstations and is a founding member and past Chair of the B.C. Coastal Parliamentarians. 

Her efforts to preserve Canada’s heritage lighthouses, partnered with the late Senator Mike Forrestall, culminated after ten years of work with the passage of An Act to Preserve Heritage Lighthouses, which received Royal Assent in May, 2008.  Ms. Carney currently chairs a Consultative Group to the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, which has been assigned the task of implementing the legislation by the Environment Minister, the Hon. Jim Prentice, P.C.

Ms. Carney has a BA in Economics and Political Science, an MA in Community and Regional Planning, and an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D) from University of British Columbia.   In 2010 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D) from Simon Fraser University for being a role model of political integrity throughout her varied and distinguished career.  She is an Honorary Member of FRAIC (Fellow of the Royal Architect’s Institute of Canada).

Ms. Carney was an Adjunct Professor at UBC’s School of Community and Regional Planning from 1990 to 1999 and received the UBC Alumni Award for Distinguished Service in 1989.  She is currently a member of the Advisory Councils of the UBC School of Journalism and of the Dean of Science at UBC.  

She is on the national Advisory Committee of Equal Voice, a multi-partisan, non-profit organization promoting the election of more women to all levels of government in Canada.  Ms. Carney served on the Board of Directors of the Vancouver YWCA, and in 1984 was one of the first recipients of the Vancouver YWCA Woman of Distinction Awards.

For 15 years she served on the Board of Directors for Rogers Media Inc. as a member of the Internal Audit Committee.   She has also served on the Boards of BC Sugar Refinery Ltd. and Pacific Press Ltd.   

The author of the 2000 best seller, Trade Secrets: A Memoir, and co-author of Tiara and Atigi, Ms Carney is a regular contributor to Canadian newspapers.  She recently served as a judge for the Jack Webster Foundation journalism awards and in 2009 and 2010 is a jury member of the Canadian Journalism Association’s lifetime achievement award board.  She is a member of The Writers’ Union of Canada.

The mother of two children, Ms. Carney lives on Saturna Island in BC’s Gulf Islands.  Her community activities include Chair of the Island Water Commission and Honorary Patron of the Saturna Heritage Committee, which is renovating an abandoned Fog Alarm Building as a heritage centre featuring the maritime explorations of the l790’s Spanish and British explorers in the southern Gulf Islands.