A book about B.C. premier Dave Barrett, who represented the District of Dewdney in the early 1960s, will be featured at an NDP event at the Pitt Meadows Library this Saturday. Authors Geoff Meggs, a Vancouver city councillor, and Rod Mickelburgh will be hosted at the event from 3 to 5 p.m.
Meggs will discuss and read excerpts from his book The Art of the Impossible: Dave Barrett and the NDP in Power, 1972-1975.
Dave Barrett was first elected to the B.C. Legislature in 1960 from this locality. His District of Dewdney then included the Tri-cities, Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Mission and points further east.
He had been employed as a social worker at the Haney Correctional Centre, which was located off 240th Street, now replaced by the North Fraser Correctional Centre. In 1972 he became B.C.’s first NDP Premier, defeating W.A.C. Bennett.
His new administration was no sooner elected than it embarked on a dizzying agenda. The press called it “legislation by thunderbolt.”
A barrage of early new initiatives included public auto insurance and ICBC, a new Labour Relations Board and Human Rights Code, a Landlord and Tenant Act and a Provincial Status of Women Office, a freeze on the rezoning of agricultural land and the creation of a the Agricultural Land Reserve, a minimum income plan for seniors, a condemnation of oil tankers off the coast, new mineral and coal royalties and oil and gas regulations, the creation of Cypress Provincial Park and ending ending logging and mining in provincial parks, and the SeaBus and the provincial ambulance and air ambulance service.
A reporter calculated that Barrett committed to 42 new policies during his first 45 days as premier and, during the first session of the legislature, enacted 96 bills.
The pace of change proved faster than many people liked, and Dave Barrett’s innovative government was defeated in the 1975 election.