Singleton ‘Godfather’ of federal Liberals in B.C.

Hal Singleton, held the Liberal “family” together in B.C. when the Reform Party tidal wave struck in the early 80s, is being honoured.

Some call him the ‘Godfather’ of the federal Liberal Party in B.C.

Because Hal Singleton held the Liberal “family” together in this province in the early 1990s when the Reform Party tidal wave struck, twice running as a candidate here in Chilliwack despite almost certain defeat.

Defeat is not in his vocabulary.

Even now, though diagnosed with terminal cancer, Singleton is still fighting the good fight, going public to get improved testing for colon cancer.

“I’m not worried about Hal Singleton,” he said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “I know where Hal Singleton is going, I’m worried about where other people are going.”

To honour Singleton’s contribution to the party and to the community, an “appreciation day” is being organized by Chilliwack Liberals on Nov. 22, with Justin Trudeau as the keynote speaker.

Trudeau will speak at a fund-raising event earlier in the day, and then again at a later public event that starts at 12:30 p.m. at the Coast Hotel.

None of the funds raised at the first event go to Trudeau’s bid for the party leadership, but remain here in the Chilliwack riding. However, it will be a chance for party “supporters” — not formally Liberal members but who can still vote for the leader — to meet Trudeau.

Clearly, the Liberal Party owes Singleton, now 69, a debt of gratitude.

After carrying the party’s flag a second time in the 2000 federal election, holding his own with the immensely popular Reform Party incumbent Chuck Strahl, Singleton continued to serve as the party’s Chilliwack constituency president.

He was then elected president of the Liberal Party’s council of constituency presidents in B.C., and it was here that Singleton organized the party’s grassroots survival strategy in the province dominated by the Reform Party.

And when the party needed advice on who to nominate for political appointments — they called Hal Singleton.

Hence the ‘Godfather’ nickname.

Singleton freely admits having “a fire in my belly” for politics when he retired from the Canadian Armed Forces in 1993 as a Lt. Col. after serving 33 years in the military.

Singleton said he got his education in “politics 101”  from Doug Steinson, another Liberal activist in Chilliwack, and quickly learned the finer points of electioneering for the upcoming election campaign.

“I learned you better have an answer for every question,” he said.

But at one campaign stop, stumped by a student’s question about Sri Lanka, instead of fumbling through an answer, Singleton told the student that his fellow election-hopeful, NDP candidate Rollie Keith, also a retired military officer, could give a better answer.

“Rollie just smiled at me, and talked for 15 minutes about Sri Lanka.” Singleton has now endured 2,500 hours of chemotherapy, but he’s spirited and good-humoured during the telephone interview.

He has nothing but praise for the BC Liberal government’s recent announcement of a province-wide colorectal cancer screening program, although it comes too late for him.

“I take my hat off to them,” he said. “I don’t care where good ideas come from, as long as they’re good ideas.”

With early detection, colorectal cancer has a 90 percent survival rate.

To Singleton, those odds make prevention, rather than treatment, a good idea for everyone.

rfreeman@theprogress.com

twitter.com/paperboy2

Just Posted

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Syringes prepared with Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Long Beach, Calif., Friday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Walk-ins welcome at upcoming G.W. Secondary vaccine clinic

Second consecutive Saturday Fraser Health has scheduled a same-day clinic in a Chilliwack school

Migrating sockeye in the Fraser River August 7, 2007. (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
First Nations, commercial, and recreational harvesters join forces to save Fraser River fish

‘We have to work together to rebuild these stocks while there is still time,’ says delegate

Vancouver courthouse. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Man loses bid to appeal conviction for 1999 rape at Abbotsford music festival

James Redden, 53, formerly of Nanaimo, was found guilty in 2019 following six-day trial

Dozens of demonstrators gathered in March at the Hope Station House, showing support for preserving the 1916 building. (Photo/Christian Ward)
New reports breathe life into efforts to save the Hope Station House

The documents were presented to District of Hope Council at a meeting June 14

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read