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

Vanier basketball star earns scholarship with University of Saskatchewan Huskies

Levi Timmermans was the Towhees’ leading scorer and MVP this season, as well as an Island all-star

Hospice care to remain at The Views until purpose-built location is completed in 2020

The four community hospice beds at The Views facility at the St.… Continue reading

Courtenay man arrested after fleeing police twice

A 33-year-old Courtenay man is facing charges including obstructing a police officer… Continue reading

Compass Adventure sails into tourism market

The Comox-based sailing school is offering two-hour guided tours for sailing newbies

Lake Trail to be seismically upgraded

The project is a partial replacement that will ensure the entire school will be seismically safer

Monster trucks bring the noise at Black Creek’s Saratoga Speedway (video)

Thousands of racing fans were in Black Creek on Saturday and Sunday… Continue reading

B.C. launches plan to tackle doctor shortage, emergency room congestion

John Horgan aims to set up regional primary care networks in a ‘team-based’ approach

Vancouver, Squamish pipeline challenges dismissed by court in B.C.

Justice Christopher Grauer ruled the province’s decision to issue the certificate was reasonable

Early learning programs for Indigenous kids get $30M boost

B.C. government to help expand Aboriginal Head Start Association programs with three-year funding

Ferry sailing cancelled after ship’s second officer falls ill

Coastal Inspiration’s 8:15 p.m. sailing to Nanaimo on Tuesday cancelled, passengers to be compensated

B.C. man recounts intense rescue of couple caught in mudslide

Something told Dan Anderson to go back to the scene of a major mudslide on the long weekend.

Comox Valley schools project student enrolment increase

Council briefs: School district board meeting, May 22

The priciest home for sale in Canada: A $38M Vancouver penthouse

Canada’s luxury real estate: The top 10 most expensive properties for sale right now

9 temperature records broken across B.C. as warm weather continues

Clearwater, Golden, Williams Lake, Malahat a few of the cities that broke records Wednesday

Most Read