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Phil Gaglardi

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Phil Gaglardi

Phil Gaglardi
Member of the Legislative Assembly for Kamloops
In office
Preceded by Sydney John Smith
Succeeded by Gerald Hamilton Anderson
Minister of Public Works
Minister of Highways
Minister without Portfolio
Minister of Social Welfare
(later Rehabilitation & Social Improvement)
Personal details
Born January 13, 1913
Mission, British Columbia, Canada
Died September 23, 1995(1995-09-23) (aged 82)
Political party British Columbia Social Credit Party

Jennie, 1943-1995

(his death)
Occupation minister, politician

Philip Arthur Gaglardi (January 13, 1913 - September 23, 1995), sometimes known as Flying Phil was a politician in the Canadian province of British Columbia. He is best known for his service as Minister of Highways in the BC government from 1955 to 1968.


  • Private and family life 1
  • Political career 2
    • Minister of Highways 2.1
    • Minister of Social Welfare/Minister of Rehabilitation and Social Improvement 2.2
    • Mayor of Kamloops 2.3
  • After politics 3
  • Quotes 4
  • References 5
  • External links and bibliography 6

Private and family life

Gaglardi was born in Mission, British Columbia as one of eleven children to poor Italian immigrants.[1] In 1943 he married Jennie Sandin, a Pentecostal minister. He attended bible school and was also ordained as Pentecostal minister. In 1947 they moved to Kamloops and he became leader of Calvary Temple (now St. Andrew’s).[2] Phil began the radio program “Chapel in the Sky” and Jennie the “Aunt Jennie” broadcast. Gaglardi continued his weekly 15 minute broadcasts throughout his political career.

The Gaglardis had two sons: Bob Gaglardi, founder of Northland Properties (whose holdings include the 35-hotel Sandman Hotel chain and 100-plus restaurants under various labels) whose son Tom Gaglardi is the current owner of the National Hockey League's Dallas Stars, and BIll, a Calgary businessman.[3][4][5]

Political career

Gaglardi was first elected to the legislature in the 1952 election as a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) as part of the British Columbia Social Credit League. The party had enough seats to form a minority government, but had no leader. Gaglardi ran for the post, but lost in a vote of caucus members. It was reported that Gaglardi lost by 10 to 9 to W.A.C. Bennett, but according to Bennett's biographer, Bennett received 10 of the 19 votes and Gaglardi one.[6] He won a total of seven elections and served as a Cabinet minister for the full duration of Bennett's time as Premier.

Minister of Highways

Gaglardi was appointed Minister of Public Works on the day Bennett's cabinet was sworn into office, August 1, 1952. His office included responsibility for highways. In 1955 Bennett created a new Department of Highways and appointed Gaglardi as the first Minister of Highways. His term was marked by rapid expansion of the province's paved road system, as well as the completion of most of the major road bridges in British Columbia. Bennett described the building program as "the greatest highway building program...per capita in the entire Western world."[7]

Gaglardi as Minister of Highways was also given responsibility for BC Ferries and its rapid expansion soon after it was nationalized in 1960. He claimed he "built the whole system around my own impatience."[8]

What really got him noticed was the way he managed to convince a reluctant W.A.C. Bennett to buy the government a Learjet (hence, "Flyin' Phil"). Premier Bennett was travelling in a newly inaugurated government-owned ferry to Prince Rupert. To demonstrate that the ferry was too slow for government business, he convinced a pilot friend to fly him to Prince Rupert in a Learjet, thereby managing to get there before Bennett did. Gaglardi waited on the dock to greet the Premier with a purchase contract for the plane. The plane was quickly purchased.

Another explanation of Gaglardi's nickname was his propensity for getting speeding tickets whilst driving in large-engined cars around the province checking on the progress of road construction or in his own words "testing the curves".

In the 1963 provincial general election he defeated Davie Fulton, who had retired from federal politics to head the BC Progressive Conservative Party and chose Kamloops as his preferred entry to the Legislature.

in 1968 Gaglardi came under fire in the legislature over re-occurring allegations of preferred highway access to property owned by his sons, use of departmental facilities to provide sign material and construction to benefit their properties, and departmental work performed on his private property.[9] He announced his resignation in March 1968 after revelations of him having his daughter-in-law and grandson in the government jet.[10] Bennett subsequently let it be known that Gaglardi had been fired.[11] He continued in Cabinet as Minister without portfolio.

Minister of Social Welfare/Minister of Rehabilitation and Social Improvement

in 1969 Gaglardi was appointed to the social welfare portfolio which he renamed the Department of Rehabilitation and Social Improvement. He spoke publicly about "deadbeats", vowed to become "the roughest, toughest, most effective welfare minister the world has ever known",[12] and created an agency to assist the indigent in getting jobs.

During the 1972 provincial general election he predicted that Bennett would resign soon after winning the election, accused the premier of being "an old man who doesn't understand what is happening with the young people of this province", claimed the cabinet was "filled with square pegs in round holes", and stated "I'm the only real choice for the job."[13] Gaglardi was defeated in the 1972 general election which the Socreds lost to the New Democratic Party.

Mayor of Kamloops

Phil Gaglardi served as mayor of Kamloops from 1988-1990. He led a fledgling municipal political party called Team Action whose candidates won a majority of the city council.[14]

After politics

After leaving politics he involved himself in the running of his son's Sandman Inns.

In 1978, he seriously considered running for the leadership of the federal Social Credit Party of Canada but withdrew after his demands for a jet plane and $1 million to fight the next federal election were rejected.

Gaglardi died on September 23, 1995.

Gaglardi Way, a major thoroughfare in Burnaby, British Columbia connecting the Trans-Canada Highway to Simon Fraser University, is named for him.

A statue of Gaglardi was erected in Kamloops. The statue is lifesize at 5 foot 4 inches tall.[15]


  • "Air pollution is the smell of money" [16]
  • "If I'm lying, it's only because I'm telling the truth" [17][18]
  • As a minister both of a church and of the crown, he noted that he saw his duty to keep the highways "in such shape that motorists will avoid the language which would deny them access to the highway to heaven"[19]
  • Speaking of unions, in 1959 in the Legislature: "We don't need any Hoffas or gangsterism in this province".[20]
  • "They talk of Roman roads in Europe but they don't compare to Gaglardi roads in British Columbia."[21]


  1. ^ Mitchell, p.177
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Mr. Sandman", BC Business online 2007-12-01
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Testimony of Aunt Jennie"
  6. ^ Mitchell, p.165
  7. ^ quoted in Mitchell, p.260
  8. ^ Mitchell, p.272
  9. ^ Mitchell, p.373
  10. ^ "Mr. Sandman", BC Business online 2007-12-01
  11. ^ Mitchell, p.373.
  12. ^ Quoted in Mitchell, p.403
  13. ^ Quoted in Mitchell, p.414
  14. ^ Kamloops News article 2011-04-14
  15. ^ "One Thing Missing When Flying Phil Statue is Unveiled" - 2009-07-18
  16. ^ The Tyee 2010-10-21 retrieved 2011-04
  17. ^ Rothenburger, Mel retrieved online 2011-04
  18. ^ Mitchell, p.194
  19. ^ Quoted in David Twiston Davies, Canada from afar: the Daily telegraph book of Canadian obituaries, retrieved online 2011-04
  20. ^ Quoted in Mitchell, p.268
  21. ^ Quoted in Mitchell, p.373.

External links and bibliography

  • Mitchell, David J., WAC and The Rise of British Columbia, Vancouver/Toronto, 1983. ISBN 0-88894-395-4
  • Rothenburger, Mel, Friend o' Mine, Orca Books, 1999. ISBN 0-88983-011-8
  • Kamloops News article 2009-07-21, retrieved 2011-04
  • St. Andrews on the Square - history
  • "Testimony of Aunt Jennie"
  • cartoon] of Bennett, Phil Gaglardi, President Lyndon Johnson, and Prime Minister Lester Pearson by Len Norris
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