BC Premier #28: Rita Johnston

The 28th Premier of the Province of British Columbia and the first female one ever!

insert pic Name Rita Margaret Johnston
Born: April 22, 1935 in Melville, Saskatchewan
Died: hasn’t
Party: Social Credit
Held Office: April 2, 1991 – November 5, 1991
  • the first – and so far, only – female premier of BC
  • before getting into politics – and I’m not making this up – she ran a Surrey trailer park.  Actually, according to Wikipedia she ran a “successful trailer park.”  I’m curious as to what criteria are used to judge whether or not a trailer park is “successful”
  • 1969: elected to Surrey city council where she served under then-mayor (and future premier) Bill Vander Zalm
  • 1975: lost election for Surrey mayorship by fewer than 100 votes
  • 1983: elected as the MLA for Surrey
  • 1986: served in cabinet, yet again under the Zalm, in the following positions:
    • 1986: Minister of Municipal Affairs
    • 1986-88: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Transit
    • 1987-88: Minister of State for the Kootenay Region
    • 1988-89: Minister of Municipal Affairs, Recreation and Culture
    • 1989-91: Minister of Transportation and Highways
  • 1990: appointed deputy premier by the Vander Slam
  • April 2, 1991: upon Billy VZ‘s resignation, she was named acting leader of the SoCreds – and thus acting premier of BC, making her not only the first female premier in BC history, but the first *Canadian* premier.  In 1991.  Seriously.
  • July 1991: elected leader of SoCred at the party convention, beating Grace McCarthy, who was expected to win
  • Oct 1991: the SoCreds lost the election to the NDP and Johnston lost her own seat; this loss was attributed to Vander Zalm‘s scandals and the split within the party due to the leadership race (with insufficient time to repair this between the party convention in July and the provincial election in October)
  • Jan 1992: she resigned as party leader on my birthday in 1992, retired from politics, keeps a low profile

In summary, I can’t believe there had never been a female premier in Canada before 1991!

Wikipedia, the reference of champions
Library and Archives Canada.

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