Mr. Chairman,


Dr.   Howard McDiarmid……

Have you ever heard that name?  (Scottish).    No?


Dr. McDiarmid was a real character.


He was born and raised

on the Canadian prairie

and he spent most of his adult life

on the west coast of Vancouver Island

in British Columbia


where he was the driving force

behind the creation of

the beautiful Pacific Rim National Park

which was opened in 1971.



Here is a photo , from  the Globe and Mail,

of Dr. McDiarmid.


He is described as … having a round face,

with a ready smile…… and prominent ears,

a rascally sense of humor,

boyish charm,

and he was a good story teller.Howard met his future wife, Lynn, in Winnipeg ,

while he was going to medical school there

and she was a nurse working there.


However, a challenge

 to their developing relationship arose

when,  despite her affection for good old Howard

Lynn decided to get out of Winnipeg,

and go to Bermuda to work.

Anyone who has been to Winnipeg in the winter

can understand why she might have done that.


So while he was still doing his internship

 in Vancouver by now

Howard travelled to Bermuda

to continue the courtship.


As he later recounted:


“One afternoon we were sitting on a hill in Bermuda

overlooking Hamilton Harbour

the beautiful blue ocean ..

contrasting with the colourful pastel houses,

sailboats bobbing in the wind,

which prompted me to say to Lynn,

‘Let me take your away from all of this!’”


And amazingly,  two days later,

Lynn accepted his proposal.

Dr. McDiarmid started his practice in the 1950’s

on the west coast of Vancouver Island

in the small logging village of Tofino

and he divided his time between there

and Ucluelet, which is a small fishing village

30 miles to the south.


He must have driven the coastal road

which connected the two villages,

many times, so he had a constant view

of magnicent old growth rainforest

on one side of the road,

and the white sands of Long Beach  

and the Pacific Ocean….on the other.


This apparently had quite an effect on him,

because early on in his career

Howard got the idea

that the area should be preserved

as a  National Park on the Pacific Rim,


So, with that in mind,  in 1966

he contested his first general election

as a member of the Social Credit Party.


The NDP had reigned supreme

there for many years

so the doctor’s  prospects seemed rather poor.


However, the local Socreds raised $18k,

a lot of money at that time

and they spent it all…


free salmon barbecues,

meet and greets for workers finishing their shifts.


No beer parlour in the area was safe

from the doctor and his campaigners.


On election day, they even hired an aircraft

to fly over the polling booths

trailing a sign reading:

“Stay on Top: Vote McDiarmid.”


The result was that Howard

won the contest by a good majority.

Now, Howard’s wife did not approve

of his political career.


Nevertheless, he  had now entered

the blood sport of

the British  Columbia politics of the time

and he went on to serve  two terms

in the provincial legislature

under the leadership of W. A. C. Bennett…

Wacky Bennett.


Howard managed to make friends

on both sides of the aisle.

because  he found his political niche,

somewhere between the right and the left.


He became known, paradoxically,  as

the “middle of the road….. maverick”…

the McDiarmid paradox….

“middle of the road….maverick.


One issue that the good doctor

rather astutely became associated with

early on in his political career

was….. alcohol.


There were many abstainers in the ruling Socred party

and Premier Bennett himself was a teetotaller,

but Doctor McDiarmid had Scottish ancestors,

and he enjoyed a wee drink from time to time.


At one point in the legislature

he made an  impassioned speech

on behalf of fellow drinkers,

and after that he became known as

“the  drinking man’s friend”,

as well as the “middle of the road maverick.”


Both of these qualities

seemed to play well with the B.C. voters.


There was a comical postscript

to this  speech on the merits of alcohol

when Howard was caught drinking a beer

in public at a beach party.


He was arrested, and charged by the RCMP.


The timing was bad….

his campaign for re election was underway,

but  the judge dismissed the charge,


and the good doctor  got himself

re-elected …. for a second term.



 However  Dr. McDiarmid’s  main goal as a legislator

was not the promotion of alcohol,

but rather the preservation

of  his beloved Long Beach

as a federal Park.


As he noted in another  speech in the House ,

as it was,  each summer “7000 campers

were….defecating…… micturating….. and copulating

amidst the splendours of the area.


He thought something should be done about it.


But he had to serve  3 years on the government benches

before he got his first face to face meeting

with Premier Bennett.

and when he finally got that meeting

he used it to press his case for the Park,

as well as for improvement of

the cross island mountain road

which would give access to the park.


His timing was good.

An election was approaching.

Premier Bennett asked, how much?

The doctor said…. $2.3 million.


The Premier got on the phone

to the deputy minister of highways.


There was a short conversation,

and while the official was still on the phone,

Bennett turned to McDiarmid and said,

“The Treasury Board has approved it.

You shall have your park.”


Government was very efficient back then.

The Pacific Rim National Park was opened in 1971

and of course Howard attended the dedication,

and then the next year, 1972,

he decided to take on other challenges.


He  moved south,  to Victoria, B.C .

He ran again there,  in the next election,

but he was defeated

as part of the NDP sweep

which saw Dave Barrett

put  Wacky  Bennett out of business.


So ironically, when McDiarmid’s cross island highway

was completed later that year

the official ribbon-cutting ceremony

was presided over, not by McDiarmid,

but by the new local NDP member,

which must have rankled a little

with the fellow who started the whole thing.


However, McDiarmid had the last laugh:

he later returned to the area

to build the beautiful Wickaninnish Inn resort

which opened in 1996.



Dr. Howard McDiarmid was a great character.


He died in Victoria, British Columbia

in August of this year.


Mr.  Chairman