Eileen Dailly

First woman to serve as Acting President of the Executive Council (1972)

Eileen Dailly
Image I-32450 courtesy of the Royal
BC Museum and Archives

Eileen Dailly was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1926. After training at the Vancouver Provincial Normal School, she began her teaching career at age 18 in a one-room schoolhouse on Denman Island. Following a move to British Columbia’s mainland, Dailly continued to teach and, in 1956, was elected to the Burnaby School Board where she served five two-year terms.

In 1966, Dailly was elected to the Legislative Assembly as the New Democratic Party candidate for Burnaby North. She was subsequently re-elected in 1969, 1972, 1975, 1979 and 1983.

In 1972, Dailly became the first woman to serve as the Acting President of the Executive Council, assuming the powers of the Premier as necessary. That same year, she was also appointed Minister of Education, a role in which she would draw upon her past experiences as a teacher, school trustee and Opposition critic for education.

In the Legislative Assembly, Dailly championed the right of girls to act as legislative pages, founded a task force on sexism in school texts, established universal kindergarten and created the first Aboriginal school district. One of Dailly’s chief priorities while in cabinet was to amend the School Act in order to ban corporal punishment, including the use of the strap, in B.C. schools – a move for which she received numerous death threats.