Trailblazing B.C. politician Grace McCarthy dies

By The Canadian Press / James Peters
May 25, 2017 - 11:10am Updated: May 25, 2017 - 3:36pm

VANCOUVER — Grace McCarthy, a former Social Credit cabinet minister in British Columbia who blazed a trail for women in politics and business, has died. She was 89.

A statement issued by her family says McCarthy died peacefully at her Vancouver home Wednesday night after a lengthy battle with a brain tumor.

The statement says McCarthy died surrounded by her family.

Called "Amazing Grace" by her fellow politicians, McCarthy entered the political arena in 1966 after a highly successful career as a florist and an elected Vancouver park board representative.

She began her career in the flower business in 1946, when she opened her first store and later expanded her business to several stores.

McCarthy credited her good friend Jimmy Pattison, who would later become a billionaire businessman, with helping her win an election in 1975 after he offered one of his employees as a volunteer to run her campaign.

After leaving politics, McCarthy founded the CHILD (Children with Intestinal and Liver Disorders) Foundation and helped raise millions of dollars for diseases that previously had little awareness.

McCarthy said she was inspired in her volunteer work by her granddaughter, a nurse, who suffers from Crohn's disease.

Former cabinet colleague remembers McCarthy

KAMLOOPS — Former Kamloops MLA and SoCred Cabinet Minister Bud Smith calls McCarthy "a trailblazer."

"She was a person who had a great deal of vision and enthusiasm for what she was doing. I think most importantly, she was probably an incredible inspiration and role model for women, and young women particularly. You must remember, when she started her career there were not many women who were leaders in the world of public office," said Smith.

Smith says McCarthy's energy was instrumental in reviving the SoCred party after its defeat in 1972.

"She was a trailblazer because she got things done. Following the defeat of the Social Credit party in 1972, Grace McCarthy's energy and perseverance was exceedingly important in rebuilding the party, and building it's membership back up."

Smith adds it seemed McCarthy was always looking forward at the possibilities in front of British Columbia, rather than looking back.

"Throughout her time, Grace McCarthy I remember well as a person who, frankly, never spent a lot time looking backwards, who was always focused on the possibilities and the positive opportunities that were in from of her."

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