Harry Rankin

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Harry Rankin (May 8, 1920 - February 26, 2002) was a Vancouver lawyer and socialist alderman on city council.

Rankin was born in Vancouver to a secular Jewish family which had immigrated from the Ukraine. His father was a factory worker and his mother was a working class woman who had grown up in Glasgow's Jewish community.

Rankin dropped out of school at the age of 14 to work in a bakery. He became involved in politics by joining the baker's trade union and going out on strike. He served in the Canadian army during World War II and saw action in Italy.

After the war he finished his high school education, went to university where he joined the Communist Party of Canada's youth club, and earned a law degree.

Communists were banned from joining the bar and Rankin was forced to sign a declaration that he was not a communist. For this reason he did not take out formal party membership even though he was a supporter of the party.

As a lawyer, Rankin fought for and helped establish the province's legal aid system.

Rankin ran for office on numerous occasions before being elected to Vancouver's city council in 1966 as the sole independent alderman on a council dominated by the conservative Non-Partisan Association. Vancouver's aldermen were elected through an "at large" system rather than by ward meaning voters from wealthier neighbourhoods were able to monopolise council elections and that only candidates who could afford a city-wide campaign had a chance of being...
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