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Staunch BC advocate to receive honorary degree

October 7, 2010

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Pat Carney, a former senator, MP and minister responsible for the Canada-U.S. free trade negotiations in the Mulroney government, receives an SFU honorary degree on Oct. 7 for exemplifying political integrity throughout her 28 years in public office. She has always been a strong voice for British Columbia and pioneered new roles for women. She has also advocated for aboriginal women’s rights.

In the 1960s, Carney was the first Canadian female business columnist, writing for daily newspapers including The Province and The Vancouver Sun and national and international publications.

As an educator in the 1970s, she helped pioneer the development of distance-learning systems in Canada, most notably the Hermes tele-education program, a national experiment with the world’s first geostationary interactive communications satellite.

In 1980, Carney was elected Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre and became B.C.’s first female Conservative MP. She was re-elected in 1984, and held three cabinet posts: Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources, Minister of International Trade and President of the Treasury Board. She was the first woman to be appointed to all of these senior economic cabinet positions.

From 1990-2008, Carney was a member of the Senate, where she served B.C. coastal communities and worked to maintain maritime safety through staffed lighthouses, preserve heritage lighthouses, ban bulk water exports and advance the cause of aboriginal women. Her greatest role in Senate, however, was advancing B.C.’s role in Confederation.

Among her greatest political achievements were helping to negotiate the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, dismantling the National Energy Program and negotiating the Atlantic Accord, the offshore resource-development agreement with Newfoundland and Labrador.

The mother of two adult children, Carney lives on Saturna Island in B.C.’s Gulf Islands.

Carney has entitled her acceptance speech Two Votes: The Power of the Polling Booth.

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