Pam Barrett (November 26, 1953 – January 21, 2008) was a politician who left politics in February 2000, after having a life-changing near-death experience.
Early political career
Pam started working for the Alberta New Democratic Party in the Legislature office for Grant Notley as a researcher, and she worked for the Alberta Federation of Labor before she got her party's nomination to run in the 1986 provincial election.
Pam attempted election in the 1986 Alberta general election and was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for the riding of Edmonton Highlands. She defeated 3 term incumbent Minister of Technology, Research, and Telecommunications David Thomas King, in what was regarded as a substantial upset.
She served in the New Democrats official opposition caucus as Deputy House Leader from 1986 to 1993. She initially retired from provincial politics in 1993 claiming poor health resulting from job stress.
Leader of Alberta New Democrats
Pam came back to politics after she contested and won the party leadership in 1996 following the resignation of Ross Harvey. In the 1997 Alberta general election she ran for the re-created district of Edmonton Highlands and won. She served the third time from 1997 to 2000.
Barrett led the New Democrats in winning two seats in the Alberta Legislature in the 1997 election (from zero in 1993). Her aggressive leadership style in and out of the legislature led many Alberta political watchers to nickname her "Mighty Mouse." She resigned her seat and leadership position in 2000.
Near death experience
Barrett resigned her position as party leader in 2000 after claiming a near-death experience in a dentist's chair. She was succeeded by Raj Pannu. After her sudden retirement from politics she went on a "spiritual search". Her near death-experience was a subject of both serious and satiric attention in the Canadian media. She was parodied on the CBC Television show The Royal Canadian Air Farce, and featured on the front cover of the May 2000 issue of lifestyle magazine Elm Street.
She died on January 21, 2008, aged 54, at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, from oesophageal cancer, after battling the disease for at least two years.
- FFWD Weekley September 3, 1998
- Pam Barrett's near death experience at the Wayback Machine (archived January 14, 2008) (WebCite archive)
- History of the Alberta New Democratic Party, Maple Leaf Web
|Legislative Assembly of Alberta|
David Thomas King
|MLA for Edmonton Highlands