British Columbia

B.C. Senator Ray Perrault dies of Parkinson's at age 82

Retired B.C. senator Ray Perrault died overnight Sunday at the age of 82 at his home in in North Vancouver, where he had been battling Parkinson's disease for a number of years.

Retired B.C. senator Ray Perrault died overnight Sunday at the age of 82, after battling Parkinson's disease for a number of years.

The veteran politician, who spent more than 40 years in office, passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at his home in North Vancouver, his niece Michelle Perrault told CBC News.

He is survived by his wife Barbara and three children. His wife was also a local politician for many years.

"He loved his family. He was very sentimental. His family meant so much to him. We will miss him so much," said Michelle Perrault.

Conservative Senator Gerry St. Germain said Perrault made a huge contribution to Canadian politics with his dedication to representing his home province.

"The thing that I observed with Ray is that it was B.C. first. He represented the region, the province, with total dedication and commitment. That's what I admired about him and hopefully future politicians will come into the job with the same dedication, commitment, and work ethic," St. Germain said.

Led the B.C. Liberal Party

Perrault started his career as a communications consultant and radio broadcaster before entering politics.  

His political career began when he was elected leader of the B.C. Liberal Party in 1959 and won a seat in the provincial legislature the following year, where he served until 1968, before moving on to serve as a Liberal MP under Pierre Trudeau.

After winning a seat as an MP that year, he was defeated in the next election in 1972 and appointed to the Senate in 1973.

Perrault then served in several cabinet positions and as the Liberal Senate leader until he retired in 2001.

Shortly after retiring his health declined, and he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. Family members said he kept busy with his many personal interests.

"He was an amazing gardener, an incredible sports fan, loved music. He liked to share these things with his family … That's personally what I'm going to think about, is how passionate he was about all that," said Michelle Perrault.