Aug 22, 2019

By Andy Johnson

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One of the driving forces behind Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Governments in the 1970s and 1980s and a trail blazer for women in politics and medicine has died at the age of 95.

Among other things, Dr. Bette Stephenson was Ontario’s first female minister of labour, first female minister of education, first female minister of colleges and universities, first female finance minister. She was also the first female president of the Ontario Medical Association and first female president of the Canadian Medical Association.

She was an author whose memoir was entitled “A Short Book About a Long Life.”

In it, she relates a story about crossing swords with then Federal justice minister Pierre Trudeau as part of a CMA special committee. She was trying to have abortion removed from the Criminal Code. Apparently Trudeau confirmed he would do so but then changed his mind. Years later the two met at an event and she confronted him about his broken promise. According to the book, the then Prime Minister warned her not to make the broken promise public because he would deny ever having made it.

Doctor Bette Stephenson was 95.

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