Lieutenant Barnett Jerome Danson is a Canadian war hero and federal Cabinet Minister.
Born to a Jewish family in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, Danson fought with the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada during WWII. He quickly rose the ranks to Lieutenant and served courageously until losing an eye in the Battle of Normandy. When he returned home, Danson became involved with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB).
After the War, Danson had a successful business career. He joined his family’s insurance business, and started his own plastics company, the Danson Corporation.
When public service called in 1967, he decided to run for office. Although unsuccessful in his first campaign, Danson was elected as Member of Parliament for the North York riding during the 1968 General Election.
In 1970, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau names Danson his Parliamentary Secretary and, in 1974, promoted him to Minister of State for urban affairs. In 1976, Danson took over one of the federal government’s most important departments when he became Minister of National Defense.
Danson’s contributions to his community following his departure from politics are countless: he co-founded Katimavik, served as Consul General in Boston, and served on the boards of the Canadian Executive Services Organization, the Canadian Council of Christians and Jews, the Atlantic Council, the Empire Club of Canada, the Ballet Opera House Corporation, the Royal Conservatory of Music, and the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business.
In his final years, Danson chaired the advisory committee of the Canadian War Museum. He became an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1996 and was promoted to Companion in 2008.
Though he passed away on October 17, 2011, Lieutenant Barney Danson will forever be remembered by Canadians for his selfless and honourable contributions to Canada.