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A former British Columbia Social Credit cabinet minister who also sat in the legislature as a member of the former Reform party and as an Independent has died.

Jack Weisgerber, who was energy, mines and petroleum resources minister in the Social Credit government of former Premier Bill Vander Zalm, and was B.C.’s first minister of native affairs, was 81 years old.

The three-term MLA who was born in Barrhead, Alta., represented the northeast B.C. riding of Peace River South from 1986 to 2001.

Mr. Weisgerber and two other Social Credit MLA’s left the party in 1994 to join the former Reform Party of B.C., costing the once-dominant political juggernaut its official opposition status in the legislature.

At a news conference announcing his defection to Reform, Mr. Weisgerber said: “There is a tremendous vacuum on the conservative side of the political spectrum that stems from the collapse of the Socred coalition.”

Mr. Weisgerber was elected Reform leader in January, 1995, but quit the party in February, 1997 to sit as an Independent in the legislature.

Shortly after the 2001 B.C. election, in which he did not run, Mr. Weisgerber was appointed to represent the province on the B.C. Treaty Commission, the body that overseas the treaty negotiation process.

Mr. Weisgerber was also appointed to the board of directors of Crown-owned BC Hydro.

“Jack Weisgerber dedicated much of his life to serving British Columbians,” Premier John Horgan said on social media. “I’m very sorry to learn of his passing and extend my deepest condolences to his family and friends.”

Opposition Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon also expressed his condolences to Mr. Weisgerber’s loved ones and friends.

“Jack Weisgerber leaves behind a legacy of service and commitment to our province,” said Mr. Falcon on social media.