Some things just need to be said...

Friday, February 11, 2005

Full Cranium Monty - Basford laid to rest

Peace Order and Good Government

Today a service is being held for Ron Basford a sometimes friend of the queer community, much more so in his last years on the Sunshine Coast

Basford and I disagreed on a lot of things. He spoke out against gays in the military in 1977 when one of my favourite Liberal cabinet ministers Francis Fox was saying let them in. Basford's role in setting up the northeast coal in BC also had a stink to it. In 1982 the Bennett Government paid him $600 a day and another $600 in expenses as a consultant.

I met Mr. Basford only once, in my youth. I was leaving a political meeting and was invited to have some drinks with a group that included Ron Basford. I was not there long, long enough to know Ron was one of the big boys.

All that said and out of my system, Ron Basford was instrumental in making Vancouver the world's most livable city. What would Vancouver's east side be like today without Gastown, Chinatown and The Drive?

A Freeway.

Many people were part of the effort to stop a planned mega freeway through Vancouver. Mike Harcourt, Art Phillips and Basford were key among them. Vancouver City Hall and Vancouver Burrard MP Basford pushed back against the Socred Government.

Ron Basford was the federal minister that took the ideas for a new vision of the south side of the Burrard Bridge area. A run down area owned by the feds. Some smart planners saw a public market, meeting place for people, a place to go on rainy days that was out doors! Granville Island was born and it remains one of the great creations of Vancouver. Basford was the MP and had the Granville Island land and responsibility moved to his department.

Basford also lead a national investment in affordable housing unseen since. CMHC created thousands of Co-op Housing societies and Vancouver took advantage of their home town boy's access to the budget, building thousands of Co-op units, keeping many people in the communities they grew up in, helping establish the many different communities that make Vancouver so rich.

Today there is no death penalty in Canada. The Trudeau government initiative to eliminate state sanctioned killing was lead by Ron Basford. The Conservative Government in the 1980's held a vote on restoring the death penalty, it was defeated.

Basford did one more thing that middle aged white guys can thank him for. Basford made it easier for men to take it all off. Full Cranium Monty.

Ron Basford was a man in the right place at the right time. Vancouver had the right people at the right time. Canada's leader was Pierre Trudeau at the right time. Mix that together and you know why Vancouver has so often been rated number one or damm near number one. Thank you Mr. Basford.

1 comment:

Gazetteer said...

Hey Rick,

Thanks for the recap, and the personal reminscences...feel like I have a fuller appreciation for the man now.