Ron Basford

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Stanley Ronald "Ron" Basford, PC (April 22, 1932 – January 31, 2005) was a long-time Canadian Cabinet minister[1] in the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau.[2] Based in British Columbia, he was known as "Mr. Granville Island"[3] for his support of the Granville Island redevelopment project in Vancouver.[4]

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba Basford moved with his mother to Comox, BC, following the death of his father, where he completed his last 3 years of high school. He then attended the University of BC, earning a Law degree in 1956. Following his period of Articles, he was admitted to the Bar, and practiced law for the next 6 years.

Basford had become interested in politics in his early teenage years and was very active in the Liberal Party while at university. He was nominated as the Liberal candidate in Vancouver Burrard in March, 1962, and contested the election in June of that year, at the age of 29, losing by 94 votes.

Basford was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons as the Liberal Member of Parliament for Vancouver—Burrard in the 1963 election and was re-elected in the 1965 election. From 1968 to 1979, he represented the riding of Vancouver Centre.

In 1968, Trudeau brought Basford into cabinet as Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs. He subsequently served as Minister of State for Urban Affairs (1972–1974), Minister of National Revenue (1974–1975) and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada (1975–1978).

As Vancouver's leading cabinet minister, Basford is credited with helping to scuttle plans for an expressway along the city's waterfront that would have levelled the Gastown and Chinatown neighbourhoods, for encouraging local planning and neighbourhood improvement, and for helping win federal support for the construction of thousands of units of co-operative housing in the city.

As Consumer and Corporate Affairs minister, Basford shepherded the passage of legislation that dramatically reduced pharmaceutical prices. This gave Canada the lowest drug prices in the industrialized world into the late 1980s when the legislation was repealed by the Mulroney government. Basford also had passed into law the Hazardous Products Act that eliminated flammable children's bedding and clothing from the market. His most controversial move, at the time, was the adoption of the SI (metric) system as Canada's official standard of weights and measures. This provoked strong opposition from many Canadians, but has since been accepted.

During his 30 months as Minister of State for Urban Affairs, Basford led the new Ministry into the unchartered waters of Federal/Provincial/Municipal consultation and cooperation through the development of Tri Level Concerences and working groups, improving the relationships among Canada's three levels of government. At the same time, he sponsored a complete revision of the National Housing Act, which initiated an era of wider programs of social housing and financial aid to municipalities through the Neighbourhood Improvement Program and the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program.

As Justice minister, Basford arranged a clemency agreement that kept abortion rights campaigner and practitioner Henry Morgentaler out of jail. He was also Justice minister in 1977 when Canada abolished capital punishment, and when the Canadian Human Rights Act was amended to require equal pay for equal work regardless of gender.

Basford retired from cabinet in 1978, as the longest-serving Minister from BC since Confederation, and did not run in the 1979 election. He practiced law with the Vancouver law firm of Davis and Company, and was named Coordinator by the governments of BC and Canada of the complex Northeast Coal Development in 1982.

References[edit]

Parliament of Canada
Preceded by
Thomas Berger
Member of Parliament for Vancouver—Burrard
1963-1968
Succeeded by
last member, riding abolished in 1966
Preceded by
Jack R. Nicholson
Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre
1968-1979
Succeeded by
Art Phillips
Political offices
Preceded by
John Turner
Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs
1968-1972
Succeeded by
Bob Andras
Preceded by
Robert Stanbury
Minister of National Revenue
1974-1975
Succeeded by
Bud Cullen
Preceded by
Otto Lang
Minister of Justice
1975-1978
Succeeded by
Otto Lang
Preceded by
Francis Fox
Solicitor General of Canada
1978
Succeeded by
Jean-Jacques Blais