Posted by Vi Hughes on Feb 12, 2019
We were very pleased to have the Honorable Betty Unger speak to us this past Tuesday. She told us that she was very pleased to be asked to speak, and that she has never attended a Rotary meeting before.
Betty is the first woman ever to be elected and then appointed to serve on the Senate. She was elected to represent Alberta in 2005, but was not appointed until a Conservative government, under Stephen Harper, came into power in Ottawa in 2012. She served as one of the six senators representing Alberta, until her retirement last year at age seventy-five.
 
Betty was born and raised in Sexsmith, Alberta.  She went on to take her nursing training at the Misericordia in Edmonton, and then worked as a nurse for some years before she founded her own nursing services company. She is a strong Catholic Women’s League supporter and has served on many different boards across Edmonton and Alberta.
 
During her time as a senator she thought it was her duty to be present for the full time that the senate was sitting. She maintained a residence in Ottawa and only returned to Alberta for short visits. She said that the senate is known for it’s in depth study of each bill that comes before them, as most senators spend much more time in Ottawa than the Commons representatives. She attended the Alberta conservative party caucus meetings in order to stay up to date on all local Alberta issues and the national Conservative Party caucus meetings as well. Betty said that sometimes she had very long days, where the meetings or sessions would start in early morning and go until after midnight.
 
Betty served on several different senate committees during her time as a senator. The first committee she served on was the Transportation and Communications committee, which during her time, had to deal with the Lac Megantic rail disaster. The second committee she worked on was the Agriculture committee, which was dealing with the honeybee disease issue.  The last committee she served on was the Banking committee. She said that she greatly enjoyed her committee work as the people and speakers she came in contact with were so knowledgeable and the work was very interesting. One other thing that she greatly enjoyed was the public speaking and information sessions that she had the opportunity to do with so many of the grade nine (the grade when they study Canadian government) students across Alberta. Betty said that she truly enjoyed her time in office and was very thankful that that she had the opportunity to represent all Albertans in this way.