Patrick Eby remembers the day his older brother dragged their younger brother to the circus.
He thought David, barely a teenager, took Matthew, no older than eight, to the big tent for some fun near their childhood home in Kitchener, Ontario.
That was not the case – David wanted to protest the way the circus elephants were treated.
“I often come back to that memory as one of the first steps toward what he was trying to do, advocating for those groups he works tirelessly for and tries to help support,” Patrick said in an interview from his home . inOntario.
“If he sets his mind to something, that’s what he’s going to try to achieve.”
Eby, 46, will take the final step in his career when he is sworn in Friday as BC’s 37th prime minister — a trajectory that has seen him grow from high school board president to protester, to activist, to civil rights attorney and career politician favored for the highest legislative office of the province.
It is a path that does not surprise his family and colleagues.
Eby was born in Kitchener, Ontario, in 1976. His mother was a high school principal and his father was a lawyer.
The eldest of four siblings, he stood out for his leadership and eagerness to learn.
“He was a vegetarian from an early age and a strong supporter of animal rights,” Patrick recalls. “He’s always been ambitious. He’s always been driven.”
After high school – where he was elected president of the student body – Eby received his bachelor’s degree in “rhetoric and professional writing” from the University of Waterloo in 1999, logically choosing his hometown university “because it offers the convenience of living at home liked while he was at school.”
After graduation, he briefly worked as a technical writer for several companies before leaving home to pursue his law studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
In the early 2000s he moved to BC
Long before hitting the road to provincial politics, Eby was an outspoken advocate for progressive issues from 2005 to 2008 as an attorney with the Pivot Legal Society in the Downtown Eastside. During that time, he advocated for the rights of Vancouver’s homeless residents.
He then became executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association and fought for police accountability. He also wrote a manual about people’s rights during arrests and suing the police in small claims court.
Eby’s political career began with a few unsuccessful rounds of elections.
First in the 2008 Vancouver municipal elections. Followed by the 2011 provincial midterm elections which saw him as the BC NDP candidate for Vancouver-Point Grey. He lost to then Prime Minister Christy Clark by less than 600 votes.
In 2013, the way was clear for a second chance. This time, however, Eby won with 47 percent of the vote, toppling the prime minister.
Since then he has been re-elected twice.
Eby has been Attorney General since 2017. His tenure was highlighted by a series of headlines, including his investigation and investigation into money laundering, a ban on corporate and union political donations, and reforms of – what he called – the ICBC “container fire”.
After the last elections, Eby also took over the housing portfolio.
In the legislature, his political opponents have long recognized his intelligence.
“As a competitor … he is a worthy opponent in the course of the debate. You better be prepared,” said Mike De Jong, the official opposition critic for the attorney general.
But that recognition is also tempered by criticism. De Jong believes Eby was the most partisan attorney general in his memory, adding that his confidence can often come across as arrogant.
He calls Eby’s run as AG a disaster.
“The extent to which British Columbians feel less safe today than they did five years ago is palpable.”
Eby has said he wants to get a jump start in the legislature and immediately introduce legislation to address pressing issues such as housing, healthcare and public safety.
But with only four days left in the legislative session after he takes office, there are concerns among the opposition that Eby will try to push legislation through without proper scrutiny.
“I can assure you we will make a lot of noise about that if he tries to push something through without proper debate and discussion,” said BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon.
LOOK | Eby sets priorities for first 100 days of function:
Pass the torch
Eby replaces John Horgan, 63, BC’s first two-term NDP prime minister, who announced in June that he was stepping down after recovering from throat cancer.
He was hailed as the leader of the NDP after his only rival in the race, activist Anjali Appadurai, was disqualified following an investigation into her campaign’s conduct.
Eby will be sworn in as Prime Minister on Friday at the Musqueam Community Center in Vancouver.
He lives in the area with his wife, Cailey, and their two children. His brother Patrick says he has always made it a point to set boundaries to best protect his personal time, even as his professional life has evolved.
“Over the years you’ve seen, as his career unfolded and the work he’s done, he certainly hasn’t taken his foot off the gas. He’s there for his family and he has time for his family.
“But when he’s in work mode, he’s in work mode.”