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

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Shag Creek area under evacuation order, area expanded

93 properties are being told to evacuate immediately

B.C. Wildfires 2018: Thousands prepare to leave their homes at a moment’s notice

Northwest B.C. and Cariboo seeing most fire activity in province as crews battle 490 fires

‘We will not forget:’ Thousands attend funeral fallen Fredericton officers

Hundreds of officials marched in the parade, which included massed band, several police motorcycles

Lions give up late TD in 24-23 loss to Argos

B.C. falls to 3-5, fumbling away last-minute chance in Toronto

Eagle tree cut down legally a 1st for B.C. city

Planned eagle preserve ‘a first for City of Surrey’

Northern B.C. residents face more evacuation orders as some smoke clears up

Regional District of BulkleyNechako issued new, expanded evacuation orders for remote areas Saturday

Smoky skies like a disappearing act for sights, monuments around B.C.

Haze expected to last the next several days, Environment Canada said

Canadians react to death of former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan at age 80

Nobel Peace Prize-winning former UN leader died early Saturday following a short illness

44 drownings so far this year in B.C.

Lifesaving Society urging caution to prevent deaths while on lakes, oceans and in pools

Some of B.C.’s air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Okanagan, northern B.C. seeing some of the worst air quality globally

Most Read