British Columbia

Protests grow against Gordon Campbell award

A protest movement against the awarding of the Order of B.C. to former premier Gordon Campbell appears to be gaining momentum.
The backlash is growing against the decision to award former premier Gordon Campbell the Order of B.C., the CBC's Stephen Smart reports 2:33

A protest movement against the awarding of the Order of B.C. to former premier Gordon Campbell appears to be gaining momentum.

Since the announcement on Friday of Campbell’s award, about 1,600 people have signed an online petition to deny the honour to the man who ruled the B.C. government for nearly 10 years.

Others, like the woman behind a Facebook campaign, say Campbell should turn down the award on technical grounds, because elected officials currently in office cannot be nominated for the Order of B.C.

Nominations closed on March 10, but Campbell was still the B.C. premier until March 14, said Ingrid Voigt.

"We're hoping that Gordon Campbell might step up and say, 'You know, I was still an elected official and I am not eligible,’" Voigt told CBC News Monday.

Voigt’s Facebook campaign had about 2,000 "likes" three days after the news about the award broke.

One frequent critic of Campbell said that while he has given considerable public service to the province, it’s way too soon for him to get such an award.

Columnist Bill Tielman says there a number of reasons to question the award to Gordon Campbell. (CBC)
"People are still pretty angry with the contribution he made in a whole bunch of political areas," said left-leaning columnist Bill Tieleman.

Tielman said the technical breach concerning the timing of the close of nominations likely won’t cost Campbell the award, but it tarnishes the prestige of the Order of B.C.

"It just makes people more cynical, again, about the whole thing," he said. "How is it that he still was in office and was still allowed to apply?’"

Appearance of bias

The appearance of bias by the selection committee also is a problem, said Tieleman.

"The selection process is full of a lot of people who are very much connected to the [B.C.] Liberal Party," Tielman said. "You’ve got Bill Barisoff, who’s a Liberal MLA and the Speaker; Barbara Steele, who's a former Liberal candidate; and John Furlong, who was appointed to run the Olympics by Campbell … it doesn’t look at all neutral."

Campbell is also only the second of B.C.’s 35 premiers to receive the award. The other former premier so honoured was Bill Bennett.

Since the Order of B.C. was introduced in 1989, 301 people have received it.

With files from the CBC's Meera Bains