Pat Carney is being remembered for forging a path for women in politics and journalism.
Carney, who is best known for being an MP under the Progressive Conservative Party from 1980–1988, died on July 25 at 88 years old.
She was known for pioneering roles for women in Canadian journalism and politics as the first female Conservative member of Parliament elected in BC and the first female Conservative appointed from the province to the Senate.
Before Carney reached the national stage, she attended UBC. Here, she reported and edited for The Ubyssey, while also serving stints as the paper’s news and features editors in 1954.
At The Ubyssey, Carney received bronze, silver and gold pins awarded to her at the Publications Board banquet which recognized the work of UBC student press “pubsters.”
Carney reported on all facets of the student experience but often wrote about jazz, blood donation and beer.
Headlines include "Jazzsoc concert best yet," "Reporter says bleeders treat you good," and "Take it easy beer scoffers; Parlours will not close yet."
Her humour shined through her articles and her 1955 column, The Gripe Vine which poked fun at AMS student politicians while informing the student body.
Carney also worked on an article series about UBC’s extension program which allowed students to participate in distance learning. She wrote four articles over the course of a month.
After graduating from UBC in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science, she worked as a business columnist for the Vancouver Sun and the Province. According to her website, Carney was the first woman business columnist for a major daily Canadian newspaper.
In the 70s, Carney returned to UBC for a master’s degree in regional planning.
And though Carney stopped writing for The Ubyssey after her graduation, the paper never stopped writing about her.
In the 1979/80 academic year, The Ubyssey covered the federal election and Carney’s win as the MP for Vancouver Centre.
Carney won one election too late to secure a role as a cabinet minister since the Conservatives were now the official opposition party, and The Ubyssey said she “will spend most days in house sawing wood.”
But Carney proved The Ubyssey wrong.
During her first term in the House of Commons, Carney was the finance critic and the critic for energy, mines and resources. She was the first woman to hold either role.
After the 1984 election, under a Conservative federal government, Carney served as the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources and in 1986, she was named Minister of International Trade.
In 1990, Carney was appointed to the Senate of Canada. As a senator, Carney advocated for abortion rights.
Carney voted against Conservative party’s Bill C-43 in 1991, which would sentence doctors to two years in jail for providing abortions when they are not medically necessary.
According to a Globe and Mail opinion article, Carney said she was the “the first Conservative senator to vote ‘nay’ against my own government’s anti-abortion bill.”
“There was no doubt about how I would vote,” wrote Carney. “I had told my voters that I believed a decision on an abortion was the right of a woman, her conscience and her doctors … Behind every abortion statistic there is a story of fear, anguish, guilt, remorse and other emotions.”
The bill did not pass. There has not been a similar bill introduced to the House of Commons since.
In 2011, Carney was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for how her “achievements as a journalist, politician and senator have contributed to Canada's economic and political development,” and for her advocacy for women’s rights, arthritis research and the preservation of Canadian lighthouses and maritime history.
Carney has been remembered online by journalists and politicians alike.
Ubyssey alum and Tyee reporter Zak Vescera said Carney “was incredibly gracious with her time, and had a story for everything, about everything.”
Pat Carney was a former Ubyssey writer. A few years back I called her up for a story. She was incredibly gracious with her time, and had a story for everything, about everything. https://t.co/bsxbSrrBgI— Zak Vescera (@zakvescera) July 27, 2023
Former MP Jody Wilson-Raybould called her a “kind, generous & wise leader,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Carney was “a trailblazer – in politics and in journalism” and Green party leader Elizabeth May said she was “heartbroken” over Carney’s death.
“Such an honour to know her,” wrote May. “I will miss her so very much.”