Item AAAB2908 - Kenneth Kiernan interview : [Reimer, 1977]

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Kenneth Kiernan interview : [Reimer, 1977]

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  • sound recording

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  • 1977-07 & 1977-09 [date recorded] (Creation)

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CALL NUMBER: T2665:0001 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Personal background and the Great Depression PERIOD COVERED: 1916-1937 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-07-04 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Born in 1916 in the Peace River country of Alberta. Details about Kiernan's family and homesteading. Father killed in WW I; mother remarries and they continue to farm. Left Peace River country in 1927. After several stops, settled on a farm at Sumas Prairie. More details about Kiernan's family. Tough economic conditions in the Peace River district. Kiernan's education and work history to 1935. Ends formal education after grade 8. Reading habits as a young man. TRACK 2: Took correspondence courses from the Canadian Legion. Leisure activities as a youth: Trail Rangers and basketball. Delivered newspapers in Chilliwack area. "Rode the rods" to the Prairies in 1935. Economic struggles of Alberta and Saskatchewan, 1935-37. Returned to B.C. on the rods in October 1937. Anecdotes about riding the rods. CALL NUMBER: T2665:0002 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Life during the 1930s Depression and World War II PERIOD COVERED: 1935-1948 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-07-04 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Continuation of anecdote about riding the rods, 1935-37. Marginal economic circumstances of the Kiernan family during the Depression. Worked in Fraser Valley mills. Contracted pneumonia. Worked for Eddy's Nurseries, 1937-40. Joined the New Westminster Regiment, 1940. Interested in Social Credit in Alberta, 1935-37, but not a member. Read works of Marx but rejected them in the 1930s. Critique of Marx and of Canadian economic system in the 1930s. TRACK 2: Kiernan in motorized corps in Canada, 1940-46. Eventually became a Warrant Officer II. Not able to go overseas because of previous pneumonia. Comments on military discipline. Kiernan into business as a garage operator near Chilliwack, 1946. Flooded out in 1948. CALL NUMBER: T2665:0003 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): The Fraser River flood of 1948 and the 1952 provincial election PERIOD COVERED: 1948-1952 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-07-06 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Kiernan describes his experiences in being flooded out during the 1948 flood of Fraser River. Description of his return to the flooded home and service station. Becomes president of local PTA in 1950. Joined Social Credit in 1951. Comments on the Coalition government. Comments on Coalition/Liberal Premier Boss Johnson and Conservative leader Herbert Anscomb. TRACK 2: Kiernan becomes very active as a Social Credit organizer, 1951-52. Kiernan takes 1952 Social Credit nomination. Organizational details about Social Credit in Chilliwack. Early meetings emphasized monetary reform. The "Christian image" of Social Credit. The importance of individualism in Social Credit. General discussion of political philosophy. Liberals and Conservatives unaware of the upsurge of Social Credit in Chilliwack. Circumstances under which Kiernan took 1952 nomination. Defeated sitting Conservative Leslie Eyres. Key roles of Alberta Socreds in 1952 election. CALL NUMBER: T2665:0004 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Social Credit comes to power : 1952 election PERIOD COVERED: 1952-1972 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-07-06 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: The importance of W.A.C. Bennett in the 1952 election. Kiernan says Alberta influence was minimal ca. 1952. 1952 Social Credit convention. Ernest Hansell as 1952 campaign leader. Bennett disillusioned with Conservatives. Kiernan sometimes "scared" by the vision of W.A.C. Bennett in things such as the two-river policy. Kiernan gives a sample of his 1952 election style. TRACK 2: Kiernan's experiences as a public speaker. The hard work of political campaigning. Description of Social Credit cabinet meetings. Kiernan's recollections of election night in 1952. Kiernan went to visit Bennett in Kelowna shortly after 1952 election. The decision is made to have W.A.C. Bennett as political leader, July 1952. CALL NUMBER: T2665:0005 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): British Columbia's first Social Credit government, 1952 PERIOD COVERED: 1952-1956 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-07-06 & 1977-09-13 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Kiernan is selected to be Agriculture Minister in the first Social Credit government. Anecdotes about becoming government. Comments on the Bennett style of leadership. The formation of the first cabinet. Kiernan speculates on the reasons for his selection as Minister of Agriculture. Comments on communist scare tactics used against the C.C.F. Socialist economic planning inappropriate for B.C. Problems with the dairy industry were the first big problems faced by Kiernan in the Agriculture portfolio. TRACK 2: The transition to power: early cabinet meetings, help from senior civil servants. Cabinet procedures. The selection of Robert Bonner and Einar Gunderson. Rev. H.D. Francis and Orr Newton resign in order to provide seats. Kiernan downplays the notion that the senior civil service opposed the new government. The firing of Percy Richards. Hospital insurance reforms after the 1952 election. Alternatives to hospital insurance proposed. CALL NUMBER: T2665:0006 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Minister of Agriculture PERIOD COVERED: 1952-1956 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-09-13 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Facing the problem of hospital insurance after the 1952 election. Building the cabinet team, 1952-53. Discussion of the 1953 session of the Legislature. Socreds maneuvering for defeat? Bennett sure of dissolution? The legislative defeat of Social Credit and the unusual passage of bills prior to dissolution. The "atmosphere" in the House at the time of the 1953 defeat. The resignation of Harold Winch as C.C.F. leader. The 1953 election. TRACK 2: Discussion of the 1953 election continued. The defeat of Tilly Rolston and Einar Gunderson. Their importance as cabinet ministers. Gunderson as a member of the Treasury Board. The election of John Perdue as president of the Social Credit League. Issues within the Department of Agriculture: brucellosis control, irrigation, hay shortages. Comments on W.H. Robertson and William McGillivray as Kiernan's deputy ministers. CALL NUMBER: T2665:0007 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): The Sommers affair PERIOD COVERED: 1952-1958 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-09-13 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Kiernan gives background to the Sommers affair. Comments on Gordon Gibson Sr. The "money talks" speech, February 1955. Gibson's charges not substantiated by the Lord Commission. Gibson's charges treated with great skepticism. Kiernan did not see the RCMP report to the Attorney-General's Department. The government has private investigator investigate the charges against Sommers. Sommers a known gambler to Kiernan. TRACK 2: More on Sommers' gambling. No pressure from ministers on Bennett to fire Sommers. Sommers called on to account for the allegations by cabinet and caucus. Sommers consistent in his denials. Circumstances surrounding the resignation of Bonner. Kiernan becomes Minister of Mines. CALL NUMBER: T2665:0008 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): The Sommers case and Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources, 1956-1964 PERIOD COVERED: 1953-1964 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-09-26 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Death of Tilly Rolston, 1953. Discussion of Sommers case, continued. Opposition to Forest Management Licences. Sommers' resignation and Kiernan takes over the Mines portfolio, 1956. Robert Bonner and delays in the case. Comments on Mel Bryan who crossed the floor on the Sommers case. More on the delays. Sommers case harms Social Credit government. Kiernan expresses doubts about the guilt and illegal intentions of Sommers. Case did not affect timing of 1956 election. Not aware of Sommers' cabinet contact. TRACK 2: No suggestion of impropriety by Sommers in the Mines portfolio. Gifts to cabinet ministers. Sommers investigated by private detective. Kiernan's general observations on the Sommers case. "Politics is war". Kiernan Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources, 1956-64. The challenge of taking over a new portfolio. Comments on Deputy Ministers of Mines: John Walker, P.J. Mulcahy. The framing of new petroleum legislation. Comments on the B.C. petroleum and gas industry.; CALL NUMBER: T2665:0009 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources, 1956-1964 PERIOD COVERED: 1945-1964 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-09-26 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: The development of oil and natural gas leasing systems. Development of the Peace River region. The building of Westcoast Transmission pipeline. Description of Frank McMahon. Comments on foreign ownership of petroleum and natural gas resources. Description of the auction of oil and natural gas leases. TRACK 2: The auction system continued. Frank McMahon in the 1960 election. Anecdotes about some B.C. mining executives: Ozzie McDonald, Spud Huestis, Mel O'Brien. The opening of Bethlehem Copper Corporation mine in the Highland Valley. Changes in mining taxation and land tenure systems, c. 1957. Problems of establishing an iron and steel industry in B.C. Vehement industry opposition to changes in mining legislation. CALL NUMBER: T2665:0010 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Mines and Petroleum Resources, and Recreation and Conservation, 1956-1972 PERIOD COVERED: 1956-1972 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-09-26 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Major problems faced as mines minister: taxation legislation, departmental expansion, mine safety. Dispute with federal government over offshore mineral rights. "Political" decision by the Supreme Court of Canada on this issue. The reclamation of mining sites. Kiernan expresses his opposition to the idea of company towns. Taxation on profits vs. royalties in the mining industry. Kiernan concerned about "penny mines" on the Vancouver Stock Exchange. TRACK 2: The formation of the Department of Recreation and Conservation, 1957. Kiernan becomes Minister of Recreation and Conservation, 1963. Anomalies in the classification of provincial parks. Mineral claims and timber leases in provincial parks. The case of Western Mines in Strathcona Park. The role of pressure groups in the Buttle Lake controversy. Preparation for his new portfolio of Recreation and Conservation. General comments on park development in B.C.; CALL NUMBER: T2665:0011 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Minister of Recreation and Conservation PERIOD COVERED: 1964-1972 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-09-27 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Skepticism about the idea of wilderness preservation. The illogic of some park boundaries. The changing of the boundary of Manning Park to facilitate mining. Kiernan's ideas on the multiple use concept. Kiernan's impressions of the B.C. Wildlife Federation, SPEC, Sierra Club. The role of the Sierra Club in the boundary determinations for Pacific Rim National Park. TRACK 2: More on the Sierra Club of B.C. W.A.C. Bennett's attitudes on park matters. Public access on forestry roads. The formation of the Environment and Land Use Committee (ELUC) in 1969. Comments on the operation of ELUC and the Secretariat. ELUC originally a problem-solver rather than policy-maker. Comments on a few specific issues dealt with by ELUC. Kiernan not convinced of the concept of a single Minister of the Environment. Williston as chairman of ELUC. Land use questions more practical than moral or ethical. "Nature the adversary". The evolution of environmental attitudes in B.C. The minister as an arbitrator of attitudes.; CALL NUMBER: T2665:0012 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Environmental and economic issues PERIOD COVERED: 1964-1972 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1977-09-27 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Kiernan's efforts to curb the excesses of the "throw-away" society. The Anti-Litter Act. The recycling of derelict automobiles. Deputy Ministers of Recreation and Conservation: Dave Turner, H.G. McWilliams, Lloyd Brooks. Comments on the proposed flooding of the Skagit River Valley. Opposition by the fishing lobby. Benefits of flood control on the Fraser River. TRACK 2: Flood control on the Fraser River continued. More comments on the fishing lobby. The benefits of fish versus the benefits of hydro power and flood control. Short term as Minister of Commercial Transport, 1963-64. Minister of Travel Industry, 1967-1972. The formation of the department, 1967. Ron Worley as Deputy Minister of the Travel Industry department. British Columbia tourist promotions. Comments on "The Wonderful World of W.A.C. Bennett". Kiernan's comments on our political society. Comments on the role of socialism in B.C. B.C. still in the frontier stage. General comments on the NDP caucus prior to 1972. Analysis of the B.C. economy. The need for new hydro electric power developments in B.C.

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Provincial Archives of British Columbia. [staff members], [1974-1987]


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  • Complete transcript on file. (Use bound copies.)
  • Reference cassette copy available in container 000443-155.

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No access restrictions apply.

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  • Copying Restriction: None.
  • Use Restriction: As determined by the BC Archives.
  • Copyright Status: Copyright British Columbia Archives.

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Accession number(s): T2665

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speaker: W. Kenneth Kiernan, interviewer: Derek Lawrence Reimer

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