KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) – A former premier is being remembered as a warm, witty man who helped guide the province out of a recession.
A celebration of Bill Bennett’s life was held in his hometown of Kelowna on Sunday, where friends and colleagues shared their memories of the man who helmed the province from 1975 to 1986.
Bennett died December 3rd after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for several years.
Billlionaire businessman Jimmy Pattison told the crowd that the former premier was a strong leader in a strong province who always treated taxpayers’ money with the same frugality as his own.
Politicians at the service included former prime minister Kim Campbell and Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon.
Campbell credited Bennett for inspiring her to enter federal politics and becoming Canada’s first female prime minister.
“Were it not for Bill Bennett, I would not have made the step to resign my seat to do it. It is all his fault. He’s the one who inspired me to do it.”
They spoke about Bennett’s contributions to the province, including building the Coquihalla Highway as well as hosting Expo 86.
Current Premier Christy Clark called Bennett one of Kelowna’s greatest sons and said he was a courageous, loyal man who refused to waiver from his core principles and had a undeniable love for B.C.
She promised to finish Bennett’s vision for the controversial Site C Dam project.
“Premier Bennett, you got it started and I will get it finished. I will get it past the point of no return.”
Former civil servant Bob Plecas was the master of ceremonies and spoke of Bennett’s signature look.
“I can tell you, when Bill Bennett peered at you with those steely blue eyes over top of his two for $5 Woolworth’s reading glasses, you paid attention!”
Donations are being accepted in Bennett’s memory through the Alzheimer Society of B.C.