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

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

Tsawout hosts Saanich Peninsula community leaders at blanket ceremony

Reconciliation event meant to share the Indigenous exerience

Amazing Race Canada kicks off at Hatley Castle

Popular reality TV show will premiere later this year

WATCH:First responders score first, take inaugural Challenge Cup in Oak Bay

Ice hockey game raises funds for Cops for Cancer, encourages positive interaction with youth

LGBTQ advocates turn Victoria SOGI protest into dance party

Counter-protest outnumbers anti-SOGI activists on lawn of B.C. legislature

Judith Guichon steps down as Lieutenant Governor of B.C.

Election decision didn’t make her best moments from the past six years

Vancouver to rake in $30 million in empty homes tax in first year

The tax is the first of its kind in Canada, and was intended to address the city’s near-zero vacancy rate

B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

River Forecast Centre official says sudden melting further into the season could cause flooding

Another B.C. First Nation voices support for Kinder Morgan pipeline

Simpcw First Nation claims people living on one-third of pipeline route support the project

Scooter crash leaves Island man with critical injuries

RCMP said a truck was making a left-hand turn when it collided with the scooter travelling through the intersection

Prankster broadcasts fake nuclear threat in Winnipeg

The audio recording on Sunday warned of a nuclear attack against Canada and the United States

ICBC reform aims to slow rising car insurance costs

‘Pain and suffering’ payouts to be capped, major injury limit to double

Most Read