Barnett Jerome Danson
|Member of the Canadian Parliament
for York North
|Preceded by||John Hollings Addison|
|Succeeded by||John A. Gamble|
February 8, 1921|
|Died||October 17, 2011
|Cabinet||Minister of National Defence|
|Unit||The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada|
Barney Danson was born to a Jewish family in Toronto's Parkdale neighbourhood. He joined The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada in 1939 as the Second World War broke out, rose to the rank of Lieutenant and served until he was severely wounded in the Battle of Normandy, and lost an eye. He maintained an interest in the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) and its library for the blind and visually impaired until his death.
He returned to Canada and joined his family's insurance business before entering the plastics industry with his own company, the Danson Corporation. He also served as president of the Society of the Plastics Industry of Canada.
In 2002, his autobiography, Not Bad for a Sergeant: The Memoirs of Barney Danson, was published.
In 1970, he became Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and was appointed to the Cabinet in 1974 as Minister of State for urban affairs. In 1976, he was promoted to Minister of National Defence. While Minister of National Defence, he was appointed the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada, his regiment.
He served in that position until the defeat of the Liberal government in the 1979 general election, in which he lost his seat. Danson received an honorary degree (1993) from the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, of which he was a former chancellor.
As a former Cabinet Minister Danson was styled "The Honourable".
Danson is the co-founder along with Jacques Hébert of Katimavik, the national youth volunteer programme. Danson served as Canada's Consul General in Boston from 1984 to 1986. He served on corporate and not-for-profit boards of directors such as the Canadian Executive Services Organization (CESO), Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, the Atlantic Council, the Empire Club of Canada, the Ballet Opera House Corporation, de Havilland Aircraft of Canada, Algoma Central Corporation, General steelwares, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
During his last years, Danson was chairman of the advisory committee of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa and produced No Price Too High, a six-part series televised on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation-TV on Canada's role in World War II.
Danson was named an Officer of France's National Order of Merit (1994), and the Churchill Society's Award for "Excellence in the Cause of Parliamentary Democracy" (1995). In 1996, Danson was named an Officer of the Order of Canada and promoted to Companion in 2008. In 2000, he was awarded the Vimy Award. In 2006, Danson was made an honorary Doctor of Laws by York University of Toronto.