Bruce Yorke, progressive councillor elected five times, dies at 91 after tragically long illness

city hall photoBruce Yorke, a fixture on Vancouver’s civic scene in the 1970s and 1980s, died Dec. 5 after a tragically long illness.

Yorke had been elected to council five times, in one case beating NPA candidate Phillip Owen in a by-election, when his career was effectively cut short by a serious heart problem that triggered other conditions and forced his resignation in 1991. His career included four unsuccessful bids for council in the 1970s, including one for mayor.

A member of the COPE council team that included Libby Davies, Bruce Eriksen and Harry Rankin, Yorke made his name as a tenant organizer, but was also closely associated on council with the mobilization of Vancouver’s massive peace marches in the 1980s.

A member of the Communist Party, Yorke was one of the key leaders of a group of labour activists, New Democrats and community organizers who founded the Committee of Progressive Electors to challenge NPA domination of Vancouver politics. They were ultimately successful in electing Harry Rankin at the top of the polls. Yorke, Davies, Eriksen and Rankin formed council’s left wing during Mike Harcourt’s mayoralty, in which lawyer BIll Yee was Harcourt’s key swing vote in a council that included five NPA members.

A memorial will be held December 20 at 1 p.m. at the Maritime Labour Centre, 111 Victoria Drive.