David Barrett (born 2 October 1930, Vancouver), commonly known as Dave Barrett, was a British Columbian politician and social worker. He was Premier of British Columbia for three years between 1972 and 1975.
He was first elected to British Columbia's legislature in 1960, running on the ticket of the British Columbia Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (now known as the New Democratic Party.) He became known for his public speaking abilities and held his seat through four elections. He ran for the provincial leadership of the BC NDP, but lost to Tom Berger. However, Berger was voted out in the next election, leaving Barrett to ascend to the leadership.
Dave Barrett led the NDP to its first provincial victory against the stagnating government of W. A. C. Bennett and became Premier of British Columbia on September 15, 1972. His government was criticised for its spending, quickly taking the government from surplus to debt. Under Barrett, the government started the Royal Hudson steam train service, substantially reformed the welfare system, and was responsible for an initiative to "humanize" BC Ferries, which ultimately ended up a disaster. The Barrett government also initiated a number of reforms such as establishing the province's Labo-ur Relations Board as well as expanding the public sector.
Barrett called an ill-advised snap election in 1975 and was voted out of office after a short tenure, in favour of a resurgent Social Credit Party under W.A.C's son, Bill Bennett who attacked Barrett over his government's handling of finances.
The charismatic Barrett was elected Member of Parliament for the riding of Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca in 1988. He ran for the leadership of the federal New Democratic Party of Canada in 1989 but was defeated by Audrey McLaughlin at the party's leadership convention. He lost his seat in the 1993 general election.
Dave Barrett is retired from active politics but continues to give speeches on current issues from time to time.