Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
David Barrett (born 2 October, 1930 in Vancouver, British Columbia), commonly known as Dave Barrett, was a politician and social worker in British Columbia, Canada. He was Premier of British Columbia for three years between 1972 and 1975, the first and so far only Jewish premier in BC.
He was first elected to British Columbia's legislature in the 1960 election as a British Columbia Cooperative Commonwealth Federation member. The CCF later became the New Democratic Party. He had to fight to be allowed to run as he was a civil servant, and at the time civil servants were barred from running for office.
He became known for his public speaking abilities and held his seat through four elections. He ran for the provincial leadership of the BC NDP, but lost to Tom Berger. However, Berger lost the 1969 election that had most people expecting the NDP to win. He resigned, and there was a quick campaign to draft Barrett to become party leader.
His government was criticized for its spending, quickly taking the government from surplus to debt. The NDP argued that the deficit was not entirely their fault as the NDP introduced modern accounting practices, and were caught by the huge liabilities that the Socred government had hidden off the books.
Under Barrett, the government started the Royal Hudson steam train service, substantially reformed the welfare system, and was responsible for an initiative to "humanize" BC Ferries, which ultimately ended up a disaster. The Barrett government also initiated a number of reforms such as establishing the province's Labour Relations Board as well as expanding the public sector. The NDP also introduced more democracy into the legislature through the introduction of question period and Hansard. The NDP also brought in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) to protect the small supply of farm land in BC. The Insurance Corporation of BC (ICBC) was formed to provide government car insurance. Both the ALR and ICBC were still functioning in 2005.
The NDP passed a new law on average every three days while in power. The pace of change was enough to scare the centre and centre right in BC to join together under the Social Credit banner to oppose the NDP. Social Credit gained MLAs from both the Conservatives and the Liberals.
Barrett called an ill-advised snap election in 1975, and was voted out of office after a short tenure, in favour of a resurgent Social Credit Party under W.A.C's son, Bill Bennett. Bennett successfully attacked Barrett over his government's handling of provincial finances.
Once the dust had settled, the NDP had increased their popular vote but lost the government. Barrett was defeated in the seat he had held for 15 years. He was re-elected in a by-election in Vancouver-East and remained an MLA for that riding till 1986.
The charismatic Barrett was elected Canadian Member of Parliament for the riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca in 1988. He ran for the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada in 1989, but was defeated by Audrey McLaughlin at the party's leadership convention. During the campaign, Barrett argued that the party should be concerned with western alienation, rather than focusing its attention on Quebec. The Quebec leadership of the NDP strongly opposed Barrett's candidacy, and Quebec MP Phil Edmundston threatened to resign from the party if Barrett became leader.
During contentious attempts to amend Canada's constitution, Barrett opposed the Meech Lake Accord, but reluctantly endorsed the Charlottetown Accord in 1992 to comply with party policy. He later referred to the party's support for the Accord as a mistake.
Dave Barrett is retired from active politics but continues to give speeches on current issues from time to time. In 2003, he supported Bill Blaikie's bid to become leader of the federal New Democratic Party.
W. A. C. Bennett
|Premier of British Columbia
William R. Bennett
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