Hugh Curtis, former B.C. finance minister during the tumultuous era of restraint in the 1980s, has died at age 81.
Curtis had cancer and was admitted to hospital 10 days ago; he passed away on Tuesday, said son Dave Curtis. “One of the things he was most proud of was that he was an elected official for 25 years and he never once was defeated.”
Blessed with a mellifluous speaking voice, Curtis spent 15 years at CJVI before becomiing a minority owner of daytime-only AM radio station C-FAX in 1965, where he read news, anchored election coverage, produced commercials and sold advertising.
Curtis was elected to the legislature in 1972 as a Progressive Conservative, switching to Social Credit in 1974. Before entering provincial politics, he was mayor of Saanich.
He held a number of portfolios in the government of then-premier Bill Bennett, most notably spending seven years as B.C.’s second-longest serving finance minister, after W.A.C. Bennett. Bob Plecas, a former long-time B.C. deputy minister and author, said Curtis broke ground in Canada on being tough during tough fiscal times.
Curtis had enormous influence in cabinet, according to Norman Ruff, University of Victoria professor emeritus. He “was a partisan Conservative, but he never crossed the line and developed the sharp edge that mars a lot of what goes on in the legislature.”
Hugh Curtis was predeceased by his wife Sheila, and is survived by sons Gary and Dave, daughter Susan and four grandchildren.
Details of a service have not yet been announced.