Pat McGeer – former BC cabinet minister, basketball player, scientist – dies at 95


Former British Columbia Cabinet Minister Pat McGeer died Monday at the age of 95.

McGeer represented Vancouver-Point Gray from 1962 to 1986, first as a Liberal and then as a key member of Bill Bennett’s Social Credit government. In addition to his political career, McGeer was an accomplished Olympian and neuroscientist.

Greg Dickson, a writer and former CBC reporter, described McGeer as an accomplished polymath involved in a « permanent pursuit of knowledge. »

« His enthusiasm was contagious, » Dickson said. « He loved the discovery of science, the thrill of discovery. »

McGeer was born in Vancouver in 1927. McGeer’s father, Dickson said, was a lawyer and judge, while his mother worked as a CBC producer. His uncle, Gerry McGeer, served as mayor of Vancouver in the 1930s and later as an MP and senator.

McGeer was a star basketball player at the University of British Columbia, leading the Thunderbirds to an unlikely victory over the famed Harlem Globetrotters in 1946. He also played for the Canadian national basketball team at the 1948 Olympics in London.

He studied at Princeton and worked for DuPont Chemical, where he helped develop Teflon in the early 1950s.

After returning to British Columbia, he turned to politics. He was elected in 1962 as a BC Liberal and later served as party leader.

He left the BC Liberals to join the Socreds. After Bill Bennett formed government in 1975, McGeer served in several cabinet positions, including Minister of Education.

During his tenure in Cabinet, he dealt with his fair share of controversy. As minister responsible for the Insurance Corporation of BC in 1976, protesters printed stickers that read « Stick it in your ear, McGeer » after raising rates.

After leaving politics in 1986, McGeer focused on science, spending decades researching Alzheimer’s disease alongside his wife, Edith. Both received the Order of Canada for their research.

« Whether it’s science, sports or politics, individuals can make a difference, and Pat and Edith have proven it, » Dickson said.


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