Trail blaz­ing B.C. politi­cian Grace McCarthy dies

Cape Breton Post - - Obituaries -

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 sur­rounded by her fam­ily Wed­nes­day night af­ter a lengthy bat­tle with a brain tu­mour.

McCarthy be­gan her ca­reer in the flower busi­ness in the mid1940s, when she opened her first store and later ex­panded her busi­ness to sev­eral stores.

The state­ment says at the age of 17, McCarthy cashed in a $50 war bond and opened her own flower shop in Van­cou­ver, Grayce Florists, which she de­vel­oped into five re­tail lo­ca­tions across the city.

Called “Amaz­ing Grace’’ by her fel­low politi­cians, McCarthy en­tered the po­lit­i­cal arena in 1966 af­ter serv­ing as an elected Van­cou­ver park board rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

She 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 McCarthy’s cam­paign.

As a lone woman in the world of pol­i­tics, McCarthy took on the chal­lenge of rais­ing a fam­ily and hav­ing a ca­reer decades be­fore work-life bal­ance be­came an is­sue for women.

In a Novem­ber 2008 in­ter­view with The Cana­dian Press, McCarthy said that long be­fore air travel be­came the norm for cab­i­net min­is­ters head­ing from Van­cou­ver to Vic­to­ria, she spent years tak­ing the ferry to B.C.’s cap­i­tal city on Mon­day morn­ings and re­turn­ing on Fri­day af­ter­noons.

McCarthy said that while she was vastly out­num­bered by all the men in gov­ern­ment, she never felt un­com­fort­able in her pioneering role.

“To walk into a room full of men, it was an ad­van­tage,’’ she said, adding that she brought her ne­go­ti­at­ing skills around fam­ily and com­mu­nity to the ta­ble and pro­vided a dif­fer­ent perspective.

“What you said was mean­ing­ful.’’

She said her hus­band, Ray McCarthy, was ac­cus­tomed to her be­ing an in­de­pen­dent busi­ness owner af­ter two chil­dren came along, and he fully sup­ported her po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions.

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