VICTORIA – Former premier Gordon Campbell is among the recipients of the Order of B.C., prompting protests and petitions against the move as well as congratulations for his long career in politics.
Online petitions and other protests started popping up when Campbell was announced Friday as one of 14 recipients of the province’s highest award. Critics complained that previous premiers such as Dave Barrett and Mike Harcourt have not received it, while former premier Bill Bennett was named to the order in 2007, two decades after he left office.
Campbell resigned his seat in March and has since been appointed Canada’s High Commissioner for the United Kingdom.
Fuelling the backlash was the selection of Campbell’s long-time deputy Ken Dobell to the Order of B.C. class of 2011. After a career as Vancouver city manager and then deputy to Campbell in the premier’s office, Dobell was given an absolute discharge in 2008 for what a judge called a “trivial” breach of B.C.’s lobbyist law while working as a consultant on the 2010 Olympics.
Another controversial choice for the award is David Emerson, a former senior B.C. bureaucrat who went on to serve in two federal cabinets. Emerson is best remembered for crossing the floor of the House of Commons to the Conservatives to accept a cabinet post, after winning a narrow election victory for the Liberals in Vancouver-Kingsway in the 2006 federal election.
The Order of B.C. is selected by a committee chaired by Chief Justice Lance Finch of the B.C. Supreme Court, and including B.C. legislature speaker Bill Barisoff, Union of B.C. Municipalities president Barbara Steele and John Furlong, former head of the 2010 Olympics and a member of the Order of B.C.
Other recipients of the Order of B.C., to be presented Oct. 4 in Victoria, are:
• Luigi Aquilini, developer and owner of the Vancouver Canucks
• Peter Norman Baird, for his work uniting aboriginal and non-aboriginal people
• Crystal Dunahee, advocate for child safety after the disappearance of her son Michael
• Yuri Fulmer, described as a “dynamic entrepreneur and dedicated volunteer”
• Tim Jones, long-time leader of North Shore search and rescue
• Dr. Phil Muir, long-serving physician in Hazelton
• Jim O’Rourke, West Vancouver, mining engineer
• Karen O’Shannacery, Vancouver advocate for homeless people
• Baljit Sethi of Prince George, advocate for immigrants
• Ellen White of Nanaimo, native educator and activist