Dateline Cowichan 1979: Salute made to Barb Wallace

Sometime in the mists of the mid-eighties, the late Barbara Wallace, Gerry Giles and I — at a location neither Gerry nor I can recall — talked to a group of women about the benefits and pitfalls of being an elected female politician.

Highly intelligent Barbara, who served as our MLA from 1975 until 1986 when she stepped down, passed on just before Christmas, 2011. She was a role model to many.

In February 1979 this wonderful lady, alias "Ma" Wallace, alias "Machinegun" Wallace was re-nominated by acclamation as the New Democratic Party candidate at a meeting of some 400 supporters. The crowd laughed appreciatively as feature speaker NDP leader Dave Barrett revealed Wallace's nicknames.

She received the first because she was a grandmother; the second because of the way she ripped up the government agriculture minister during her first term in the legislature, he said. Federal NDP hopeful Jim Manley, former MLA Bob Strachan and MP Tommy Douglas, speaking 10 years to the day after he was first elected to parliament as the member from Cowichan-Malahat-The Islands, were also in attendance.

Strachan said he was sure Wallace would be re-elected despite changes to the constituency that removed Ladysmith from the riding and included points south of the Malahat.

1979 In brief

Doman Industries Limited announced record operating results for the previous year when the company earned $1.68 per share compared with 99 cents the year before.

Cowichan district school board expected to spend $1.6 million more in operating costs than it did in 1978, an increase of just over 11.1 per cent over the previous year's $13,864,543. Included were three teachers for its expanding French Immersion program.

Local Social Credit president Bob Berry said he expected about 700 party members to turn out for a meeting to choose a candidate. Running for nomination were Richard Ewing, Rex Hollett and Phyllis Whittome.

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