UPDATED: Memorial for Dave Barrett draws tributes for underdog champion

New Democratic Party swept to power in the B.C. for the first time in 1972 under Barrett’s leadership

Premier John Horgan paid tribute to former British Columbia premier Dave Barrett Saturday as a political leader who captured the heart and soul of the province at a state memorial service at the University of Victoria.

Barrett, B.C.’s first elected New Democrat premier, died last month in Victoria after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

“Dave had an ability to capture your heart, mind and soul,” said Horgan, who described Barrett as the most captivating political orator he has ever seen and will likely ever see again. “Dave had a knack.”

He said he will always remember Barrett’s speeches. They started slowly, but within minutes his shirtsleeves were rolled up and his foot was up on a chair and he was loudly proclaiming the best way to help people, especially those considered underdogs.

Horgan said Barrett would be pleased with the crowd of 1,000 people who attended his memorial service, but he would have liked to be there “to pass the hat around for (donations for) the next campaign.”

The NDP swept to power in the province for the first time in 1972 under Barrett’s leadership and passed a record 357 bills that led to enduring reforms including public auto insurance and the Agricultural Land Reserve.

READ MORE: Former B.C. premier Dave Barrett dies at age 87

Welfare reforms, a provincewide ambulance service and affordable prescription drugs through the Pharmacare program are also legacies of Barrett’s political accomplishments during his time in office, which lasted for three years.

Barrett’s New Democrats made history by defeating the five-term Social Credit government of W.A.C. Bennett, marking the end of that party’s dominance in B.C. politics.

The former social worker from Vancouver who died at age 87 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease was fondly remembered for his wise-cracking personality .But others paid tribute to his political accomplishments.

“Dave touched the hearts of men and women across B.C.,” said Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon. “His vision indeed far exceeded that of so many Canadians. He made hard decisions.”

Horgan has called Barrett’s accomplishments during his short time at the helm extraordinary and remembers Barrett bringing his “B.C. swagger” to Ottawa when he was elected to the federal NDP in the late 1980s.

Horgan said B.C.’s left-right, no-holds-barred politics were steeped in Barrett’s political rivalry with W.A.C. Bennett and then with Bill Bennett, the son of the man he’d dethroned in the 1972 election.

However, Barrett lost to the younger Bennett in 1975, 1979 and 1983.

Horgan, along with former New Democrat premiers Glen Clark and Dan Miller, and another 500 NDP members, will gather in Vancouver to celebrate Barrett’s life.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Former NDP British Columbia Premier Dave Barrett, centre, gets up to greet NDP Leader Jack Layton at a town hall meeting Thursday Sept. 25, 2008 in Victoria. Former British Columbia premier Dave Barrett has died at the age of 87. A statement from Premier John Horgan’s office says the former NDP premier died after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Just Posted

Genealogy exploration can uncover unexpected connections

Kathy Jones will present Beginning with Genealogy as first ElderCollege talk Feb. 23 in Nanoose

Kidney Foundation trying to keep patients warm this winter

Kidney Foundation of Canada’s Warm the Sole campaign takes chill off dialysis treatments

Nanaimo RCMP to host summer youth camp

Youths can discover if they have the mettle to be a Mountie at five-day camp in July

GUEST COMMENT: Temporary emergency shelter just part of solution

Setting up temporary emergency shelters was and is a reasonable response

Nanaimo Theatre Group will start its season by staging a farce

Self Help follows married second-rate actors who become famous self-help coaches

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

New museum exhibit presents Nanaimo mysteries

Nanaimo Mysteries exhibit unveils city’s fiction and even stranger facts

Most Read