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Memorial for Barrett today

A state memorial service will be held today in Victoria for former British Columbia premier Dave Barrett, who died last month in the capital city.

The New Democratic Party 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.

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 will be remembered for his wise-cracking personality.

Current NDP Premier John 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 says British Columbia'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 tomorrow to celebrate Barrett's life.



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