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Born: Apr 01, 1955

Date of Passing: Nov 10, 2021

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April 1, 1955 - November 10, 2021

David passed away in Winnipeg on Wednesday, November 10, 2021, from complications from leukemia. His daughter, Jacqueline Donner, was with him. It being Manitoba, a snowstorm prevented Becky Barrett, his partner for many decades, from driving from Gimli to be by his side.
David is lovingly remembered by his partner Becky, daughter Jacqueline, sister Jennifer (Steve), stepdaughter Laura (Marty); stepgrandsons, Adam and Ian; niece Maia (Aidan); and great-nephews, Theo and Jasper.
David is predeceased by his parents, Gertrude and Jack.
David was whip-smart from the get-go. Early on, he made a name for himself as an outstanding chess player, just like his father.
David studied political science at the University of Manitoba, where he plunged into student politics and became the much-admired chairperson of the University of Manitoba's student union. A keen student of electoral systems, David helped persuade the student union to use a ranked ballot system for choosing its president.
David left university a few courses short of a B.A. to join the Manitoba NDP as a staff organizer.
So began his 45-plus-year career promoting social democracy in Canada. Moving back and forth from Winnipeg to Ottawa and working in both provincial and federal politics were features of David's remarkable life. Provincially, David did stints as the caucus research director, provincial secretary, director of communication, provincial president, and executive assistant to Manitoba premier Howard Pawley. At the federal level, David was assistant to MP Terry Sargeant, federal president, federal treasurer, federal secretary, and chief of staff to the federal leader, Alexa McDonough.
Before he retired in 2011, David's last formal assignment was with the provincial government's Treasury Board, when he managed to finish the course requirements for his B.A. A professor noted that he felt that many times he was the student, and that David was the professor.
Across Canada, David is remembered by New Democrats and non-New Democrats alike for being kind and generous with co-workers, party members, and his fellow citizens. Many said they felt a genuine bond with him, whether briefly during a provincial or federal election or a friendship that spanned decades. He was a mentor to many and known for offering sage counsel and astute insight to those seeking his advice, which occurred frequently.
David was a longtime follower of the Jets, Bombers and Goldeyes. He also took great pleasure crafting delicious food, and enjoyed Indian cooking, shawarma, an excellent burger, and fine roast beef. David kept up with best and latest restaurants.
Donations in his memory may be sent to the New Democratic Party or CancerCare Manitoba. Please also have a meal at a locally owned restaurant to support small business.
A memorial service will take place in the new year.

Condolences may be sent to


Make a donation to CancerCare Manitoba Foundation

As published in Winnipeg Free Press on Nov 20, 2021, Nov 20, 2021

Condolences & Memories (7 entries)

  • I worked with David at Treasury Board Secretariat. He was multi-talented, wise and supportive. I found his easy laugh and calm manner a wonderful antidote to the stress and demands of public sector work. He will be greatly missed by all those who knew him. - Posted by: Fran Gropp (Colleague ) on: Nov 24, 2021

  • I have so many fond memories of David starting when I worked at UMSU so many years ago and continuing on when both he and I worked for the Government of Manitoba. I am so sadden by his passing and offer my deepest sympathy to Becky and David’s family. Marjorie Webb - Posted by: Marjorie Webb (Friend) on: Nov 23, 2021

  • My sincere condolences, Becky and Jacqueline. Many memories of "when we was kids" back in UMSU, and David's life trajectory of Community contributions and Canadian political history in that lovely tribute. - Posted by: Victoria Lehman (friend) on: Nov 21, 2021

  • David and I were close friends for more than 40 years. He was my boss, my mentor, my advisor and my neighbor for most of my adult life. David was always kind, knowledgeable, supportive and fun. I felt he knew just about everything, or could look it up fast. David often kept me out of trouble with his diplomacy and respect for others. He was very kind to my husband Rob, helping him find ways to attend Jets games together. David worked hard for what our community believes in, often compromising his own health to do so. I will miss David always. - Posted by: Leslie Turnbull (friend) on: Nov 21, 2021

  • David was deeply committed to his principles, but in a caring, compassionate way. He was always willing to listen, and always looking to solve problems rather than create or intensify them. He spoke with wisdom and conviction, but equally with a soft voice and a ready smile. The party has lost a man of tremendous character and great leadership skills. My sincere condolences to Becky and the other members of David's family. - Posted by: Eugene Szach (Friend) on: Nov 20, 2021

  • David was a man of great passion and wisdom who I am lucky to have called a mentor and friend. I first got to know David when he was elected President of the Manitoba NDP in 2017, and had the privilege of learning from him and working alongside him in the years that followed. David taught me the importance of hard work, organization, and solidarity as he inspired our movement keep working every day in pursuit of a better world. My most sincere condolences to Becky alongside David's family. His loss will forever leave a void in our hearts. - Posted by: Evan Krosney (Friend and colleague) on: Nov 20, 2021

  • Becky and Jacqueline; Please accept my condolences on the loss of David. There is a huge void in our community, party, and personal lives at his passing. His dry sense of humour lightened many tense interactions and his great advice solved many difficult disagreements. He was always a peacemaker, using his personal skills to find common ground and his commitment to social democracy never wavered. We all learned to be better because of our dealings with David. He will be missed so much by all. Please know that we are thinking of you during this difficult time. - Posted by: Susan Hart-Kulbaba (friend and recipient of David's sage advice) on: Nov 20, 2021

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