Barry Penner

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Barry Penner
Barry Penner portrait.jpg
Attorney General of British Columbia
In office
December 1, 2010 – August 18, 2011
Premier Gordon Campbell
Preceded by Michael de Jong
Succeeded by Shirley Bond (interim)
Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation of British Columbia
In office
October 25, 2010 – March 14, 2011
Premier Gordon Campbell
Preceded by George Abbott
Succeeded by Mary Polak
Minister of Environment of British Columbia
In office
June 16, 2005 – October 25, 2010
Premier Gordon Campbell
Preceded by Bill Barisoff
Succeeded by Murray Coell
Minister responsible for Sustainable Communities & Minister responsible for Water Stewardship of British Columbia
In office
June 16, 2005 – June 23, 2008
Premier Gordon Campbell
MLA for Chilliwack
In office
Preceded by Bob Chisholm
Succeeded by riding dissolved
MLA for Chilliwack-Kent
In office
Preceded by first member
Succeeded by riding dissolved
MLA for Chilliwack-Hope
In office
Preceded by first member
Succeeded by Gwen O'Mahony
Personal details
Born (1966-01-06) January 6, 1966 (age 50)
Kitimat, British Columbia[1]
Political party Liberal

Barry Penner, QC is a licenced lawyer and former politician in the Canadian province of British Columbia. He served as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia (MLA) for Chilliwack-Hope for 16 years. He also served as Attorney General of British Columbia, Deputy House Leader (2005–2009), Minister of Environment and Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Kitimat in 1966, Penner has lived most of his life in the eastern Fraser Valley of British Columbia, Canada. He has fought forest fires, spent summers on patrol as a park ranger and worked at a local saw mill.[2]

Penner completed two years at what is now University of the Fraser Valley (formerly Fraser Valley College) and has been named one of their "Top 40" alumni.[3][4] Penner received a number of academic awards while studying at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby before completing a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Economics. He was then selected for the 1989 British Columbia Legislative Internship Program. While completing a law degree at the University of Victoria, Penner was one of the early participants in the UVic Law Co-operative Education program and worked for a law firm in Bangkok, Thailand in 1991.[5]


Penner was first elected as a MLA in 1996 (representing the riding of Chilliwack) and was re-elected in 2001 and 2005 (the riding of Chilliwack-Kent)[6] with some of the highest margins of victory in the province. He was re-elected in the 2009 British Columbia general election to represent the reconfigured Chilliwack-Hope constituency (which includes Agassiz, Harrison Hot Springs and the Fraser Canyon) with more than 53% of votes cast.[7]

As an elected representative, Penner was an early advocate for expanding the use of Canada's DNA database to help identify, catch and convict violent criminals, and solve cases involving missing persons.[8] He also introduced a motion in the Legislature calling on the BC Government to establish an 'AMBER Alert' system in BC to assist police in safely returning abducted children to their parents. The motion passed in 2003, and the 'AMBER Alert' system became operational in 2004.[9]

Penner became known as an advocate for small-hydro, wind power and other alternative energy sources after helping lead unprecedented community opposition in the Fraser Valley to the proposed Sumas Energy 2 power project.[10]

He has also served as Vice-President and President of the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) beginning in June 2001, and for five years was British Columbia's lead representative to the organization which consists of three Provinces, five States and two Territories.[11]

In June 2007, Penner announced he would continue working as a Minister while receiving treatment for leiomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer.[12] During his time in provincial politics, Penner was recognized by Vancouver Magazine as one of the 50 most influential people in British Columbia.[13]

In August 2011, Barry Penner stepped down as Attorney-General but remained as the MLA for Chilliwack-Hope. On November 24, 2011 he told the Legislature that he would resign in early 2012 as he had accepted a position [14] with the national law firm of Davis LLP, where he worked on environmental, energy and First Nations issues. He officially resigned his seat on January 9, 2012.[15]

Personal life[edit]

In 2008, Penner married Daris LaPointe, on top of a mountain in Manning Park where they both previously worked as Park Rangers years earlier. They have two daughters, Fintry, named after a Provincial Park on Okanagan Lake and Atlin, named after Atlin Provincial Park in northern British Columbia and that includes Atlin Lake, the largest natural lake in the province.[16]

In May 2014, Penner moved to Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) with his family to work for a law firm assisting with inbound investment, particularly in telecommunications and energy.[17] However, he returned with his family to British Columbia when his second child was born.[18] Penner has since established a legal and public affairs advisory practice. He is a member of the Board of Directors with the BC College of Physicians & Surgeons and on the roster of arbiters for the New West Partnership Trade Agreement between British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Election results[edit]

British Columbia general election, 2009: Chilliwack-Hope
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Liberal Barry Penner 8,985 53.28 $67,073
New Democratic Gwen O'Mahony 5,638 33.43 $18,541
Conservative Hans Mulder 1,198 7.10 $250
Green Guy Durnin 951 5.64 $350
People's Front Dorothy-Jean O'Donnell 93 0.55 $260
Total Valid Votes 16,865
Total Rejected Ballots 95 0.56
Turnout 16,960 51.85
"Chilliwack-Hope B.C. Votes". Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
British Columbia general election, 2005: Chilliwack-Kent
Party Candidate Votes % Expenditures
Liberal Barry Penner 11,368 57.14 $77,840
New Democratic Malcolm James 6,534 32.84 $16,280
Green Hans Mulder 1,651 8.30 $1,742
Moderates David Michael Anderson 240 1.21 $120
Youth Coalition Colin Wormworth 103 0.52 $100
Total Valid Votes 19,896 100
Total Rejected Ballots 118 0.59
Turnout 20,014 58.71
B.C. General Election 2001: Chilliwack-Kent
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
Liberal Barry Penner 13,814 74.88% $40,938
     NDP Malcolm James 2,155 11.68% $3,979
Green Larry Commodore 1,511 8.19% $890
Marijuana David Ferguson 968 5.25% $1,496
Total valid votes 18,448 100.00%
Total rejected ballots 94 0.51%
Turnout 18,542 71.63%
36th British Columbia election, 1996 - Chilliwack (electoral district)
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
     No Affiliation Bob Chisholm 5,736 23.44% unknown
New Democratic Keith Rollie 5,989 24.88% unknown
Green Steve Kisby 232 0.95% unknown
Liberal Barry Penner 9,273 37.90% unknown
Reform Bill Wimpney 3,237 13.23% unknown
Total valid votes 24,467 100.00%
Total rejected ballots 107
Turnout %


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