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William Richards Bennett, or simply Bill Bennett (born August 18, 1932) was Premier of the Canadian province of British Columbia (1975-1986).
Born in Kelowna, British Columbia, he was the son of the former Premier, W.A.C. Bennett and following his father's resignation, Bill Bennett was elected on September 7, 1973 as the BC Social Credit Party Member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly for South Okanagan.
He was voted the leader of the Party in 1973, at a convention in Whistler, British Columbia and Premier of the province in 1975 defeating the NDP. In the election of December 11, 1979 the Social Credit Party was re-elected with a majority. He served until August 6, 1986.
Inspired by conservative economist Milton Friedman, his government slashed social services and gutted labor laws in response to economic woes in 1983, provoking a general strike which further crippled the economy. To justify massive education cuts, Bennett blamed many of the province's difficulties squarely on the shoulders of public school teachers, an odd argument which deeply split the electorate.
On the other hand, his ostensibly anti-socialist government spent hundreds of millions to bring the 1986 World Exposition to Vancouver, distributed free shares to British Columbians for British Columbia Resources Investment Corporation (a holding company which ultimately flopped), and spent hundreds of millions constructing the Coquihalla Highway with the controversial, non-union Kerkhoff Construction Company as the main contractor. His government also spent over $1 billion on the Northeast coal project in its hopes to create jobs; yet critics noted that, by creating only 1,000 jobs, each one cost taxpayers $1 million. The coal project ultimately failed.
He is generally highly respected among members of his own party, but reviled by others.
|List of British Columbia premiers||
Bill Vander Zalm