The Start of Social Credit
In March 1951 WAC Bennett, a Conservative member of the Coalition quit and sat as an independent and was joined by Tilly Rolston. Both of them then became Social Credit members and were elected as such in 1952. This basically was an end run move by WAC Bennett to make a party of his own and ditch all of his old colleagues. When he was elected, he had a caucus of new MLAs he could mold into what he wanted.
The only other one time coaltion member that I know of to eventually become a Socred MLA was Arvid Lundell from Revelstoke. He was elected in 1949 as a Coalition candidate, ran as a PC candidate in 1952 and 53 but was defeated by Vincent Segur of the CCF. He came back in 1956 with Social Credit but was defeated in 1960 by George Hobbs of the CCF but won again in 1963.
From 1951 to 1971 I know of only two instance of any change in party for an MLA. The first was PC Larry Giovando who became an independent in July 1954. The other being Social Credit MLA John Bryan. He was elected in 1956 for Social Credit in North Vancouver and then crossed to the Liberals on February 25th 1959. He did not run for re-election in 1960
Revolt against WAC
Most people had expected WAC Bennett to lose the 1969 election to the NDP lead by Tom Berger. I suspect many on the right were waiting for the defeat to renew the party. Two Social Credit caucus members crossed to become PC members, Scott Wallace on August 17th 1971 and Donald Marshall on March 22nd 1972. Scott Wallace would later become the PC leader and was re-elected in 1972 and 1975 as a Progressive Conservative.
Bill Bennett Consolidates
In 1972 the Liberals, Social Credit and PCs took 60% of the vote but only elected 17 of 55 MLAs. The Liberals had five MLAs and the Conservatives two. Bill Bennett convinced PC Hugh Curtis to cross to Social Credit on October 25th 1974. Liberals Garde Gardom and Pat McGeer became independents in May of 1975 and then were elected as Social Credit MLAs in November 1975.
Atlin was a long time NDP strong hold, from 1949 till November 7th 1975 it was represented by Frank Calder for the CCF/NDP. He crossed to Social Credit and was re-elected in 1975, the only time Social Credit won the seat. He was defeated by NDP candidate Al Passarell in 1979 by one vote. The story I have heard is that Frank and his wife did not vote.
Al Passarell won again in 1983 for the NDP. On Oct 22 1985 he crossed to Socred, he was killed in a plane crash not long before the 1986 election leading to a very dark joke on the left “Take Al Passarell's advice, better dead than Socred!”
The NDP lost Graham Lea in 1984, a member of the cabinet in 1972 and candidate for the party leadership in 1984. On February 9th 1985 he left the NDP and formed the United Party, on March 26th 1986 he crossed over to the PCs.
Revolt against Vander Zalm
Four Social Credit MLAs quit caucus to sit as independent Social Credit - Graham Bruce, Dave Mercier, and Lyall Mowat who rejoined the Social Credit caucus on February 14 1990 and Duane Crandell who returned to caucus on January 24th 1990. Long time Social Credit cabinnet minister Jack Kempf left the caucus on March 30th 1987 to sit as an independent. He rejoined Social Credit on June 25 1990
1991 – 1996 This term saw the most changes in BC history.
Formation of the PDA On Septmeber 11th 1993 Gordon Wilson and Judi Tyabji left the Liberal caucus to sit as independents. They then formed the PDA – Progressive Democratic Alliance (though some said PDA meant politically disgraced adulterers)
The Socred Four join BC Refrom Richard Neufeld, Jack Weisgerber, Len Fox and Lyall Hanson all quit Social Credit on March 14th 1994 and became the caucus for BC Reform. March 14th 1994 is also the day that Mike De Jong and Gordone Campell were sworn in. It was the defeat of Grace McCarthy on March 11th and her problematic leadership that seems to have lead to the move to BC Reform. About a year later in the Abbotsford by-election the ascendency of the Liberals over Reform was confirmed when John Van Dongen narrowly won the by-election.
Other Liberals that left caucus:
David Mitchell - December 7 1992 he sat as an Independent Liberal. This changed to independent on February 16 1994.
Bob Chisholm - April 11 1995 independent
Alan Warnke - April 28 1996 independent
The NDP lost one member, Robin Blencoe , he was an independent from December 29 1995.
The two Reform Party MLAs became fed up with new Reform party leader Wilf Hanni. Richard Neufeld crossed to the Liberals on October 7th 1997 and Jack Weisgerber became an independent on November 28th 1997 and Richard Neufeld
Gordon Wilson crossed from the PDA to the NDP on January 29th 1999.
Two Liberals were expelled from caucus, Paul Reitsma expelled April 1 1998 resigned June 23rd 1998 and Jeremy Dalton was expelled on January 11th 2001
Rick Kasper left the NDP on October 30th 2000 to sit as an independent
Tony Bhullar left the Liberals to become an Independent Liberal February 22 2002, he joined the Liberals again on November 2nd 2004
Paul Nettleton was expelled from the Liberal caucus on November 19th 2002. He sat as an Independent Liberal until he changed to an indendent on December 2nd 2004
Elaine Brenzinger left the Liberals to sit as an Independent Liberal on March 8th 2004. She changed to Democratic Reform BC on Janaury 27th 2005.
2009 – current
Bob Simpson was expelled from the NDP on October 6th 2010 and formally was designated an independent on December 8th 2010.
Blair Lekstrom quit the Liberal caucus on June 11th 2010 to sit as an Independent Liberal. He rejoined the Liberals on March 2nd 2011
Bill Bennett was expelled from caucus on November 17th 2010 and rejoined the Liberals on April 5th 2011
Pat Pimm resigned from the Liberal caucus on June 27th 2011 and rejoined them on July 13th 2011
John Van Dongen crossed from the Liberals to the Conservatives on March 26th 2012 (thanks for catching the typo)
Number of MLAs changing designation
- 1969-1972 – 2
- 1972-1975 – 4
- 1975-1979 - 0
- 1979-1983 - 0
- 1983-1986 - 2
- 1986-1991 - 5
- 1991-1996 - 10
- 1996-2001 - 6
- 2001-2005 - 3
- 2005-2009 - 0
- 2009-now - 5
Of the 37 changes since 1971, only five were people leaving the NDP
Claude Richmond, Stan Hagen, Harold Long and Graham Bruce were elected in the past as Social Credit MLAs before being elected as Liberals after an interval out of the legislature.