Interviewed by Ron Johnson and Johanna den Hertog
Colin Gabelmann came to Canada as a child in 1947 from London, England. He was influenced by his family’s ties to social democratic parties in Europe which continued in Canada where they were strong supporters of the CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation) and the NDP (New Democratic Party). Gablemann became politically active at a young age, living in the Okanagan and moving to Vancouver to attend UBC. His involvement in the UBC NDP Club introduced him to the BC labour movement. After being hired as a fundraiser for the NDP, Gablemann went to work for the BC Federation of Labour to do labour education and encourage union affiliation to the NDP. He became MLA (North Vancouver-Seymour) at the age of 28 in 1972, where he saw his role as articulating labour’s cause within the Party. Defeated in 1975, Gablemann returned to the legislature in 1979 and served for 17 years as the MLA for North Island. During that time, he was labour critic and Attorney-General in Mike Harcourt’s government. He was present for some of B.C.’s most important political events, including the War in the Woods, freedom of information laws and indigenous rights. In this extensive interview, Gablemann recalls a large group of people in B.C.’s labour and progressive political movements whom he knew and worked alongside.
CCF (Cooperative Commonwealth Federation), New Party, NDP (New Democratic Party), Osoyoos, Alma Faulds, Cooperative Commonwealth Youth Movement, New Democrat Youth, Harold Steves, Rosemary Brown, UBC, BC Federation of Labour, Retail Wholesale Union, Clive Lytle, John Squire, Bob Strachan, Michael Lewis, Ray Haynes, Dave Barrett, Mike Harcourt, organizing, boycotts, North Vancouver, women’s rights, injunctions, labour code, 1975 election, North Island, Operation Solidarity, Jack Munro, Clayoquot Sound, Mike Harcourt