Former B.C. premier Dave Barrett remembered at state memorial in Victoria


WATCH: Hundreds gathered to honour and remember B.C.’s first NDP premier Dave Barrett, who died last month. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

Nearly 1,000 people gathered at the University of Victoria?s Farquhar Auditorium Saturday, in memory of former B.C. premier Dave Barrett.

“Dave Barrett had a knack that I have never seen before and we may never see again,” said B.C. Premier John Horgan Saturday during a memorial for the former premier, “He would start to capture the hearts of every one of you.”

Barrett, who came to power in 1972, was the first NDP premier in B.C.’s history.

He died on Feb. 2 at the age of 87 ? after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

“He did so much to permanently change British Columbia in three short years,” said Lt. Governor Judith Guichon during the service, “Much of which has become the fabric of this province.”

A tribute video highlighted just a few of his government’s reforms including the creation of ICBC, the agriculture land reserve, lowering the drinking age to 19, passing the B.C. Human Rights Code and abolishing corporal punishments in schools.

“He would say to me, “said Mark Eliesen, Barrett’s deputy minister, “All I wanna do is make life a little better for most people.”

Barrett’s NDP government passed a record 357 bills.

“He’s a magnificent person who got me into politics,” said Michael Harcourt, B.C. premier from 1991 to 1996.

“He had a sense of commitment to his ideals and in three short years he was able to put those into practice and in a sense modernize British Columbia,” said Ujjal Dev Singh Dosanjh, who served as 33rd premier of British Columbia from 2000 to 2001.

“Personally, Dave Barrett is why I’m here,” said Premier Horgan, “I was infatuated with his delivery, I joined the NDP and I’ve never looked back.”

Barrett was a proud husband and father of three.

“I’m so happy Dave got the honour of being remembered this way and it was great honour for the family” said Barrett’s wife Shirley.

A celebration of his life will be held in Vancouver Sunday at the Croatian Cultural Centre on Commercial Drive from 1 to 4 p.m.

To honour Dave Barrett, the family says donations can be made to the Alzheimer Society of B.C.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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