Ed and Katrine Conroy are seen at Katrine’s swearing-in at the BC Legislature in 2013. Photo: katrineconroy.ca

Reflecting on former Kootenay MLA Ed Conroy’s legacy

Former BC cabinet minister and Kootenay MLA Ed Conroy passed away June 26

When Ed Conroy passed away June 26, the West Kootenay lost a lifelong advocate.

Conroy served the area where he was born and raised in numerous ways. He was a towboat operator on the Arrow Lakes, school trustee and school board vice-chair, before serving in the BC legislature as the NDP MLA for Rossland-Trail for 10 years (1991-2001). He also served as the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries for BC and the Minister Responsible for Rural Development from 2000 to 2001.

Conroy has another big legacy — helping to create the Columbia Basin Trust, an organization that either directly or indirectly affects the life of every West Kootenay resident.

Former Nelson-Creston MLA Corky Evans and Conroy worked closely together, not just on the creation of the Trust, but in the legislature as well. The two even shared a Victoria apartment while the legislature was in session.

“Ed Conroy is the real story that you would want your children to believe politics is,” said Evans. “When he spoke in the legislature, he was speaking about land he grew up in and people he knew.

“He was the epitome of what politics should be in order for it to be a respected profession — rather than the cynicism that passes for political thought today.”

Evans tells a story about the time Conroy ran for caucus chair, despite being encouraged not to do so, winning against the candidate the leadership supported.

“It was a huge statement that we were not going to do what the boss told us,” said Evans. “We are going to choose this guy [Conroy] because he will hear us and help us hang together.

“To me, it was the people that worked there choosing the person they felt was honest and on their side.”

Evans said another thing he appreciated about Conroy was the way he would make up his own mind, and then wasn’t afraid to stand up and say what he thought.

When announcing Conroy’s passing, BC Premier John Horgan said “I’ve known Ed for 30 years and had the honour of working with him during his time as an MLA and then as a minister.

“Ed was a truly kind and decent man. He’ll be greatly missed by all those who knew him. My thoughts and support are with his wife, my friend and colleague Katrine Conroy, and their extraordinary family.”

After retiring from politics, Ed continued to live with his wife in Pass Creek where they ran a ranch breeding prize-winning Polled Hereford cattle.

Katrine Conroy has now taken up the legislature torch and has been serving as the NDP MLA for Kootenay West since 2005. She is now the BC Minister for Children and Family Development.

Evans says “In the past 30 years, there are a million things that have gotten better in the West Kootenay, and for all but four of those years, either Ed or Katrine Conroy has been in a leadership role for the area. The Conroy family has governed for an entire generation, without becoming pretentious.”

Conroy fought many health battles during his 73 years including losing a kidney to cancer, successfully battling Hepatitis C, two liver transplants and a kidney transplant, dialysis and numerous other bouts with cancer.

With that in mind, Conroy’s family is asking that people consider registering as organ donors in his memory.

RELATED: Former BC minister and MLA Ed Conroy passes away at 73



betsy.kline@castlegarnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BC NDPcastlegar

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No clear option to help more Rosslanders access recreation facilities in Trail: Report

Rossland residents have had to pay double the cost to use the facilities in recent years

New waste disposal contract comes into effect in Rossland on August 1

The price for a small and large bag sticker will double under new contract

Nelson’s American sister city faces COVID-19 culture war

In Sandpoint, Idaho, wearing a mask is about Black Lives Matter, gun rights, and COVID-19

UPDATE: Body of Slocan River drowning victim recovered

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

Nelson’s SMRT1 Technologies to provide vending tech to Vancouver company

UpMeals will launch 22 machines across Canada using SMRT1’s personalized machines

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

B.C. marine ecologist wants Canada to sink its teeth into shark protection

Gulf Islands scientist says top predator under shocking threat from human behaviour

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Most Read