We lost two good men recently. Bill Bennett, former Premier of British Columbia and Bob McClelland, former Minister in Bill Bennett’s cabinet, passed away.
I had the honour and privilege to serve with these men from 1975 to 1986.
Prior to the 1975 election, I only knew Bill Bennett as the son of W.A.C. Bennett, Premier of B.C., 1952-1972 and that he was from Kelowna, 40 miles up road from where I lived in Penticton.
During the ‘75 campaign and the years that followed I recognized the strength and commitment of the man.
Bill wanted the best for British Columbia and its people. We went through good times and bad, but always with Bill’s steady hand of leadership. The economic downturn in ‘79 and the early ‘80s, the “Restraint Program” to control government spending and the threat of a general strike, Bill handled them all with the commitment to make things better for the people. The result was we came out of those tough times and went on to accomplish a great deal.
Projects such as B.C. Place, Skytrain, the Coquihalla highway and finally Expo 86, and event that presented British Columbia to the world. Bill wasn’t looking for accolades, he just wanted to get the job done. As a matter of fact, Bill announced his retirement during Expo 86, satisfied it would be a success.
Bob McClelland was a cabinet colleague and a good friend. He held four portfolios during his term, including Health, Energy and Labour. The people of B.C. were well served by Bob McClelland.
I was privileged to sit at the Cabinet table with these two men. Looking back I consider them as my friends and mentors who provided me with the insight and wisdom to be successful in my career after politics, for that I am truly grateful.
Someone once said:
“We are like actors on a stage, we enter, we enjoy the spotlight, we perform and then we exit, to be remembered or forgotten by the quality of our performance.”
Bill Bennett and Bob McClelland will be remembered.
James J. Hewitt
MLA Boundary Similkameen 1975-1987
Cabinet Minister 1976-1986