William Andrew Cecil Bennett (September 6, 1900 - February 23, 1979) was a Premier of the Canadian province of British Columbia who was born in Hastings, New Brunswick, Canada. He is usually referred to as W. A. C. Bennett and both affectionately and mockingly by many as Wacky Bennett.
At the age of 18, Bennett moved to Edmonton, Alberta and eventually went to Kelowna, British Columbia and entered the retail hardware business. A successful merchant, he served as President of the Kelowna Board of Trade from 1937 to 1939. He entered provincial politics on October 21, 1941 when he was elected the Conservative Party member of the British Columbia Legislative Assembly for South Okanagan. He was re-elected in 1946 and again in 1950.
He ran unsuccessfully for the provincial Conservative Party leadership in 1951, and became an Independent Member in 1951. In December of that year he announced membership in the Social Credit League and was elected its leader on July 15, 1952. He promptly proceeded to ditch the original ideology. He was elected premier with a minority in the 1952 provincial election, using a system of Single Transferable Voting. On August 1, he was sworn in as Premier of British Columbia, an office he held for twenty years until 1972. Because Bennett only had a minority government, he engineered his own defeat with a school funding proposal, and forced an election in 1953. He was re-elected with a clear majority. Single Transferable Voting was not used in BC again. A conservative, he served also as the Minister of Finance, keeping tight control over government spending while leading his province into an era of modernization and prosperity.
Following his party's defeat in the 1972 election by Dave Barrett's revitalized NDP, he served as Leader of the Opposition until resigning his seat as Member for South Okanagan in June of 1973. His son, William R. Bennett won the South Okanagan by-election in September and W.A.C. Bennett retired as leader of the Social Credit Party on November 15th. William was elected leader of Social Credit Party on November 24, 1973 and in the provincial election of 1975 the Social Credit Party was re-elected with a majority and William R. Bennett became the new Premier of British Columbia.
W.A.C. Bennett died in 1979 and was interred in the Kelowna Municipal Cemetery, in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.
In 1998, the Government of Canada honored W.A.C. Bennett with his portrait on a postage stamp of Canada. The W. A. C. Bennett Dam near Hudson's Hope, built under the Two River Policy is named after him. He was featured in Time Magazine on September 30, 1966.
"The finest sound in the land is the ringing of cash registers."
"The Socialist Hoardes are at the gates of British Columbia!"
"I couldn't give it away, so we decided to build it and run it." - On the British Columbia Railway.
"We are a young country; we must build on the solid rock of sound economic policies and balanced budgets. But, we must be prepared, as a nation, to step from the solid rock onto new ground. The path of ease, the path of tradition alone, is not the path of a greater Canada." - Addressing the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in 1962.