Item AAAB3654 - Leslie Peterson interview

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Leslie Peterson interview

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  • sound recording

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  • 1978-09 to 1978-11 [date recorded] (Creation)

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CALL NUMBER: T3330:0001 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Background, education and military service of Les Peterson PERIOD COVERED: 1923-1946 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-09-25 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses his personal and family background: growing up in rural Alberta; religious influences and early political interests. Recollections of political figures prominent in Alberta in the 1930s. Peterson's education: Alice Hill School, Viking, Alberta -- the proverbial single-room schoolhouse; high school in Viking; Camrose Lutheran College, Camrose Alberta. Extracurricular activities and first working experience. TRACK 2: Leslie Peterson recounts his experience working for the CN Express in Edmonton as a young man. Working for the railroad in Terrace, B.C., and enlisting in the army at Prince Rupert. Recollections of service in the army: training and service in the Coast Artillery at Prince Rupert; attendance at McGill University in the Army Service course and memories of Montreal and friendships made there; service overseas in England and travels on the continent. Peterson was in Europe on Armistice Day. Before returning to Canada in 1946 he attended the University of London for a year. Return to Canada, discharge from army and decision to enroll in law school at the University of British Columbia. CALL NUMBER: T3330:0002 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Legal and political training PERIOD COVERED: 1946-1956 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-09-25 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses his first impressions of Vancouver and the University of British Columbia. Comments on the experience of a war veteran attending university after World War Two. Recollections of three years at U.B.C. law school. Peterson was called to the bar in 1949 and begun his own practice in Vancouver. Discussion of the nature of his law practice. Marriage to Agnes Rose Hine in 1950 and comments on Peterson's family. Comments on politics in B.C. during the Coalition era. TRACK 2: Peterson explains how he became interested in and involved with the Social Credit movement. Reaction to the 1952 provincial election. During the 1953 provincial election, Peterson served as campaign manager for North Vancouver Socred candidate George Tomlinson. Peterson was the unsuccessful; Social Credit candidate in the 1953 federal election in the Vancouver-Centre constituency. Impressions and recollections of W.A.C. Bennett. Peterson became involved in politics more by accident than by design. Discussion of how he came to be elected in the 1956 by-election in Vancouver-Centre. First impressions as a Social Credit MLA. CALL NUMBER: T3330:0003 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): From MLA to Minister of Education PERIOD COVERED: 1956-1960 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-10-04 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses his first impressions as an MLA and his recollections of the Social Credit caucus. Comments on the leadership style of W.A.C. Bennett. The problems of representing an urban constituency in B.C. and Peterson's theory of democratic representation. Comments on the 1956 provincial election campaign. The problems of co-ordinating an election campaign in a dual-member constituency. The efficacy of the Socred campaign slogan: "Progress not Politics". Free enterprise versus socialism as a recurring fundamental issue in B.C. elections. TRACK 2: Leslie Peterson remarks upon the possibility of supporting the Conservatives or Liberals as free enterprise alternatives. The polarization of politics in B.C. The results of the 1956 provincial election and Peterson's success in Vancouver-Centre. Reaction to appointment as Minister of Education, 1956. Description of duties and functions of Minister of Education. Peterson served as Minister of Education during a period of great growth. Comments on the administration of the Education portfolio, 1956-68. The Department of Education was administered by a small group of able men in a very personal style. The problem of delegation of authority. CALL NUMBER: T3330:0004 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Aspects of the administration of the Department of Education, 1956-68 PERIOD COVERED: 1956-1968 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-10-04 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses further aspects of the administration of the Education portfolio. The relationship between the formulation and execution of government policy in the Department of Education. The problem of teacher shortages in British Columbia in the '50s and '60s. Relations with the B.C. Teachers Federation. Discussion of the increasing cost of education in British Columbia, 195;6-68. The financial policies of the Social Credit government and the goal of debt reduction. Financing of school construction under the Social Credit government. Comments on the issues of centralization and decentralization of British Columbia's educational system. TRACK 2: Further comments on the policy of debt-reduction. Recollections of coming before the Treasury Board as Minister of Education. The process of producing a departmental budget. Peterson describes the experience of coming before Treasury Board as a fairly informal affair. Discussion of the operation of cabinet under the leadership of W.A.C. Bennett. The Premier was intolerant on questions of morality, otherwise he was quite flexible on matters of policy. Attitude toward cabinet committees. Important consultation on policy matters often took place outside of cabinet. The Social Credit government was operated by a relatively small group of elected and non-elected officials. Changing impressions of W.A.C. Bennett. CALL NUMBER: T3330:0005 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Further aspects of education in British Columbia PERIOD COVERED: 1958-1968 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-11-02 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses the Chant Report of 1958 which called for less frills in education. The Doukhobor problem in British Columbia and the Department of Education. Discussion of trip to Europe in 1959 to examine various European school systems. Medical problems during Peterson's career. Assumption of the responsibilities for the education of the mentally retarded in British Columbia, 1960. The issue of federal assistance for education in British Columbia. Education and federal-provincial relations. Problems serving in a dual cabinet portfolio, Education and Labour. TRACK 2: Coordination of Labour and Education departments. Political oratory and attitudes towards parliamentary institutions. Relations with the University of British Columbia and explanation of the system of grants to universities. Comments on charges of anti-intellectualism which were levelled against the Social Credit government. The Macdonald plan for the growth of higher education in B.C. and the subsequent development of universities and regional colleges in the province. The building of Simon Fraser University. The role of W.A.C. Bennett in the expansion of educational opportunities in B.C. All-night sittings and the issue of "legislation by exhaustion". CALL NUMBER: T3330:0006 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Aspects of government in B.C. and appointment as Minister of Labour, 1960 PERIOD COVERED: 1960-1960 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-11-02 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses the issue of all-night sittings in the B.C. legislature. The absence of question period and Hansard in the House during the years of the first Social Credit government. Recollections of the Sommers affair and its effect on the government. The timing of the 1960 provincial election. Recollections of the 1960 election campaign. The take-over of B.C. Electric Co. and reaction in government circles. TRACK 2: The background to Peterson's appointment as Minister of Labour, 1960. Reasons for serving in a dual portfolio. Administration of the Department of Labour. Duties and functions of the Minister of Labour. Comments on the distinctiveness of the labour movement in B.C. Views on labour-management relations. The effect of being branded an "anti-labour government". The relationship between organized labour and the NDP in B.C. and its effects on Peterson as Minister of Labour. The role and function of labour unions. Speculation as to why British Columbians have been reluctant to admit voting for Social Credit. CALL NUMBER: T3330:0007 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Labour law disputes and labour relations in B.C., 1960-1971 PERIOD COVERED: 1960-1971 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-11-03 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses the effects of labour legislation which he passed through the B.C. Legislature as Minister of Labour. Bill 42, 1961, and the relationship between organized labour and the NDP. The issue of union payroll deductions being used for political purposes. The Mediation Commission Act, 1968 (Bill 33) and the issue of compulsory arbitration. Use of the power of binding arbitration. Relationship with leaders of organized labour in British Columbia. Comments on the growth and development of the labour movement in B.C. during the years Peterson served as Minister of Labour. Premier W.A.C. Bennett's role in labour matters. TRACK 2: The Premier's attitude towards labour-management relations may have been harsher and more direct than Peterson's. The importance of timing in government interventions in labour-management relations. The occasion when Peterson and Bennett visited the home of J.V. Clyne in an effort to assist in the settling of a labour dispute which was crippling the coast forest industry. The 1971 BCFL-sponsored demonstration at the opening of the legislative session. The amount of labour legislation increased significantly in B.C. during Peterson's tenure as Minister of Labour. Peterson's legacy to labour-management relations in B.C. CALL NUMBER: T3330:0008 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Conventions, elections and Social Credit policies PERIOD COVERED: 1952-1972 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-11-03 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses his role and involvement within the Social Credit party. The relationship between the party executive and the government. Comments on the differences between using the phrases "movement", "league" or "party" in describing Social Credit in B.C. The roles of the Women's Auxiliary and the Young Socreds. The relationship between the B.C. and Alberta Social Credit parties. The relationship between the B.C. Social Credit Party and the national party. The 1962 national Social Credit leadership convention at which Robert Thompson was made leader. Reasons for supporting Real Caouette over Robert Thompson. TRACK 2: W.A.C. Bennett and national Social Credit politics. The question of possible irregularities at the 1962 national Socred convention. Reasons for the lack of success of the national Social Credit Party in Canada. Recollections of the 1963 election campaign. Evaluation of the challenge by the Conservatives under the leadership of Davie Fulton. Reasons for the failure of third party challenges in British Columbia. The 1966 provincial election and Peterson's switch to the riding of Vancouver-Little Mountain. Comments on dual-member riding. Election funding and the B.C. Free Enterprise Educational Fund. Peterson's interest and involvement in promoting the Bank of British Columbia. Relations with Vancouver municipal politicians. CALL NUMBER: T3330:0009 SUPPLIED TITLE OF TAPE(S): Life as Attorney-General and the defeat of the Socreds, 1972 PERIOD COVERED: 1968-1975 RECORDED: [location unknown], 1978-11-03 SUMMARY: TRACK 1: Leslie Peterson discusses the effect of the resignation of Robert Bonner in 1968. The following cabinet shuffle and Peterson's assumption of the portfolio of Attorney-General. The duties and functions of the Attorney-General. Administration of the department of the Attorney-General. Relationship with Deputy Attorney-General. Federal-provincial relations, the process of constitutional review and the failure of the Victoria Charter, 1971. The development and advocacy of the five-regions idea. The 1969 constitutional conference in Ottawa. The 1969 provincial election. Evaluation of the leadership of the NDP under Strachan and Berger. The liquor ad ban, 1971, and its effect on the demise of the government. Moral issues in politics. TRACK 2: Peterson's defence of W.A.C. Bennett after he was referred to as a bigot by Prime Minister Trudeau. Contributing factors to the defeat of the Social Credit government in 1972. Anecdote about meeting the Premier at the PNE during the election campaign and warning him that things were not going well. The effect of losing in his own riding, Vancouver-Little Mountain. Comments on the question of succeeding W.A.C. Bennett as leader of the Soci;al Credit Party. Comments on Bill Bennett and his entry into B.C. politics. The threat of the Majority Movement to the revival of the Social Credit Party in B.C.. (End of interview)

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


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  • Complete transcript on file.
  • Reference cassette copy available in container 000443-192.

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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): T3330

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speaker: Leslie Raymond Peterson, interviewer: David Joseph Mitchell

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