Former premier Gordon Campbell is among 14 people soon to be awarded the honour of the Order of British Columbia.
The office of B.C. Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point announced the 2011 recipients Friday, noting that Campbell would be receiving the award due to his standing as a “visionary, leader [and] proud British Columbian.”
Campbell left office earlier this year amid controversy over his government’s handling of the harmonized sales tax…
Well that announcement is crap, in a number of ways. Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point might have read the announcement but it was written by partisan Liberal hacks following a Cabinet decision to grant provincial honours to 14 individuals. Membership in the Order of British Columbia is conferred upon some outstanding citizens for service to the province – search & rescue organizer Tim Jones is a 2011 example I know – but honours are readily given to other citizens merely for service to the Liberal Party.
In 2009, Andrew MacLeod of The Tyee reported Liberal donors well represented in Order of B.C. ranks. According to MacLeod, six of the 13 appointees in 2009 were Liberal donors, none were donors to the NDP.
This year, one of the recipients is Luigi Aqualini, patriarch of the family with roots, along with partners from the Zen family, in the oft criticized business of providing sub-standard housing to people with sub-standard incomes. In the 2007 article, The Hellhole, Vancouver Magazine referred to the Aquilini reputation now being somewhat rehabilitated from when “the Zens and Aquilinis came under assault from the media, from the (now extinct) tenants’ watchdog, the Rentalsman, and from the B.C. Legislature.”
No doubt, a redeeming feature for the Provincial Cabinet when they considered Aqualini’s Order of BC award was the almost $300,000 in donations to the BC Liberal Party from Aquilini family businesses, according to records of Elections BC.
Another on the awards list was Ken Dobell, Gordon Campbell’s longtime guru and rainmaker. The guy Bill Tieleman called an “arrogant fool” is a multiple-dipper into the public purse who has enjoyed a lucrative career while at times having his hands on Gordon Campbell’s reins and at other times on his coattails.
Dobell, along with the cynical David Emerson, is unworthy of being in the company of worthy honourees. Emerson, a man very much of the business establishment, has had senior connections with numerous corporations that have been generous BC Liberal donors. Honourees Yuri Fulmer, Jim O’Rourke (through multiple corporations), Ralph Nilson and Baljit Sethi are also donors to the BC Liberals.
The Order of B.C. Advisory Council submits nominations for the award each year but the Liberal Cabinet makes appointments. The Advisory Council is little involved in researching candidates, that is left to government political staff and the Council’s role is primarily ceremonial.
I was surprised the Clark government rushed to pin a medal on Gordon Campbell’s chest. (See the comment by North Van’s Grumps.) Campbell departed in disgrace and the worst of his policies are only now beginning to be recognized. I hear that associates of the legacy-obsessed former Premier have been suggesting the billion dollar convention centre should be named for Gordon Campbell. Either that or the new Port Mann crossings. Campbell is already planning a collection of accolades in the form of honorary degrees. The forty plus institutions of higher learning in London, his current home, provide fertile ground for that hobby.
Chasing titles, awards and monuments is a long tradition in politics, throughout the world. Campbell might put his eye on the late Idi Amin, awards collector par excellence. His self description at end of career was:
“His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshall Al Hadji Dr. Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, King of Scotland, Lord of all the Beast of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea and Conqueror of the British Empire in General and Uganda in Particular.”
Myanmar dictator Than Shwe is another collector of medals, pins and assorted regalia. Unearned awards and gear just seem to go with despots and dishonoured politicians.
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