New Democrat MLA Maurine Karagianis issued the following statement:
“Members of the New Democrat caucus were saddened to hear of the passing of former cabinet minister and MLA Bill Barlee.
“Bill believed in British Columbia. An ardent student of history, he understood that it was the can-do attitude of earlier generations that opened up industries crucial to the growth of the Interior and north. It was that attitude that made him a success, both in private life, and in his time in the legislature.
“Bill was an MLA for nearly eight years, from 1988 to 1996, representing a region that did not historically elect New Democrats; it was his unique charm and personality that drew non-supporters to his campaign. As cabinet minister, he was responsible for the Buy B.C. program, widely regarded as the best agriculture-marketing tool this province ever had and one that, more than a decade after it was ended, is still recognized by British Columbia producers and consumers.
“Bill’s tenacity and spirit serve as an inspiration and a challenge to all British Columbians.
“On behalf of the New Democrat caucus, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to Bill’s family and friends at this difficult time.”