1983: NDP leader booted from BC legislature
• At the time, B.C. was deep in a recession and was reporting an unemployment rate of 14 per cent.
• Dave Barrett and the NDP took exception to 12 bills in particular, which they nicknamed "the dirty dozen." They attempted to delay the bills' passage by every procedural means possible.
• On Sept. 19, 1983, the government - which had 35 seats to the NDP's 22 - moved to "legislation by exhaustion" to push through its agenda. It began holding all-night sessions in the legislature.
• Members on both sides prepared for the all-night sessions by bringing in sleeping bags, blankets, and air mattresses. One NDP MLA camped in her van, and poker games broke out in nearby caucus rooms.
• Two days before Barrett's ejection, the government invoked closure a record four times to end debate on two bills.
• On the night he was ejected for good, Barrett had challenged a ruling by the acting Speaker, John Parks. Such challenges were standard NDP delay tactics, and could often lead to the ringing of bells in the legislature that would awaken sleeping members.
• When Parks asked him to leave, Barrett said: "I have a right to challenge rules and I'm not leaving. If I give up that right I give up everything that this place stands for."
• As (not) seen in this clip, Barrett's ejection was not caught on camera even though cameramen and reporters were present at the time.
• According to the Globe and Mail, the reporters were in fear of Speaker Walter Davidson. Several weeks earlier he had barred them from taking pictures in the hallway outside the chamber and even ordered them how to dress.
• This was not the first time Barrett was ejected from the legislature. He had been ordered out by Speaker Walter Davidson on Sept. 20, but the ejection lasted only for the day because Barrett left willingly.
• Barrett's second ejection extended to the legislature's press gallery and, technically, his own office. He also faced a pay deduction of $250 per day for each day he was absent from the chamber after day 10.
• The Social Credit party said Barrett would be allowed back in if he apologized, but he refused. Nevertheless, public pressure grew to re-admit Barrett as editorialists deemed the debacle "British Columbia's shame."
• Barrett was barred until a new session began on Feb. 13, 1984. The legislature sat for about two weeks after his ejection, adjourned for 101 days, then sat for another two weeks. During that time the government managed to push through most of its new laws.
• Barrett was elected premier of British Columbia in 1972, ousting longtime premier W.A.C. Bennett. But he and his party were turfed just three years later, losing to a Social Credit party now led by Bill Bennett, son of W.A.C.
• In the spring of 1984, Barret stepped down as leader of the B.C. NDP. He was replaced by Bob Skelly.
• Barrett remained an MLA until 1986. In 1988 he took a run at federal politics and was elected an MP. He lost the seat in 1993.
• In 1989 Barrett ran as a candidate to replace federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent, but lost to Audrey McLaughlin.
Broadcast Date: Oct. 6, 1983
Guest(s): Dave Barrett, Bill Bennett, John Parks
Reporter: John Stanton
Last updated: February 7, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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