BARRETT, DAVID (1930– ), Canadian social worker, politician. Barrett was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, and raised in a secular Jewish home on the city's east side, where his father ran a produce market. Barrett studied philosophy and social work in the United States. He returned to Canada in 1957 and began work for the British Columbia Department of Corrections. Angered by what he regarded as wretched working conditions in an archaic prison system, he was soon an outspoken critic of the provincial penal system and organizer of a prison employee union. He was fired. Carrying his battle into the political arena, in 1960 Barrett was elected to the provincial legislature for the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), forerunner of the democratic socialist New Democratic Party (NDP). In 1969 he was elected leader of the British Columbia NDP and in 1972 led his party to victory with a major reform agenda. His was the first NDP government in British Columbia history and Barrett was the first Jewish provincial premier in Canadian history. Defeated in 1975, he served for a time as leader of the opposition followed by a stint in broadcasting. He went on to   become an NDP member of the federal Parliament from 1988 to 1993, when he retired. (Harold Troper (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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