Monday, November 19, 2012

Book Notes: Barrett in Power

In The Tyee, Crawford Kilian draws our attention to "the best book ever written about B.C politics," Geoff Meggs and Rod Mickleburgh's The Art of the Impossible: Dave Barrett and the NDP in Power, 1972-92, new from Harbour Publishing.

Barrett and his New Democrats were novices in many ways, but they understood the numbers. On a crowded track, he was first past the post with only 39 per cent of the vote. In my own riding of North Vancouver Seymour, Colin Gabelmann ran against a Socred, the Liberal incumbent Barrie Clarke, and the new young leader of the provincial Conservatives, Derril Warren. Gabelmann won with just 31.3 per cent, and knew he wouldn't be re-elected.Hence Barrett's readiness to do as much as possible in one term, and to hope for re-election based on a solid record. His style of government was "legislation by thunderbolt" as one bill after another staggered the opposition.
The hope for re-election part did not work out so well, but Kilian argues that "Barrett's government wasn't just passing laws; it was creating institutions and practices that today we take for granted."
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