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Ian Waddell was born November 11, 1942 in Glasgow, Scotland, to Isabel and Jack Waddell. His family moved to Canada when he was a child. He received bachelors degrees in history and law from the University of Toronto, a teaching diploma from the Ontario College of Education, and a Master of Laws from the London School of Economics.
Waddell articled in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1967 and his career has remained rooted in the area. His early career focused on public interest law, spending a year as Assistant City Prosecutor and working in other positions dealing with traffic, family, and criminal law. He then succeeded the founder of the Community Legal Assistance Society, becoming the organization's Legal Director in 1972. He remained in the position for two years, and during that time litigated Canada’s first class action lawsuit. He was also involved in various government boards and commissions during this time.
From 1974 to 1977, Waddell served as special counsel for Justice Thomas R. Berger’s Mackenzie Valley Pipeline Inquiry.
Waddell's career then took a political turn, and he campaigned for election to the Canadian Parliament. As a member of the New Democratic Party (NDP), he served for 14 years as a Member of the Canadian Parliament, first representing the Vancouver Kingsway riding (1979-1988) and later Port Moody-Coquitlam (1988-1993). In this position, Waddell acted as NDP critic for environment and energy--notably during the National Energy Program--and participated in the Meech Lake Accord.
From 1996 to 2001, Waddell was elected to the British Columbia Legislature where he served as Minister of Tourism, Culture & Small Business, Minister of Environment, Lands & Parks, and Minister on Intergovernmental Affairs. His work included earning the 2010 Olympic bid and growing Vancouver’s involvement in the film industry.
Waddell also participated politically on the international stage. As a member of Parliamentarians for Global Action, he became involved with advocating for the International Criminal Court.
In 2013, Waddell was appointed Queen’s Counsel by the Attorney General of British Columbia. Following political life, Waddell has remained active in legal affairs as a legal and government consultant. In addition, he’s an author and film producer.