12/04/2015 18:07 EST | Updated 12/04/2016 00:12 EST

Canadian Press NewsAlert: Former B.C. premier Bill Bennett dies at age 83

KELOWNA, B.C. — Former British Columbia premier Bill Bennett, known as an architect of financial restraint in the province, has died in his hometown of Kelowna at the age of 83.

Bennett had been suffering from Alzeimer's disease for several years and died Thursday.

He led the Social Credit party in a December 1975 landslide victory over Dave Barrett's New Democrat Party.

Bennett took over the party from his father W.A.C. Bennett, who stepped down in 1972 after his 20 years in power ended in electoral defeat.

Under Bennett's helm, the Socreds took 34 of 55 seats in the legislature and more than 49 per cent of the popular vote.

Bennett is survived by his wife of 60 years, Audrey, and his brother Russell, four sons, eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

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The Canadian Press