Surrey Coun. Barbara Steele sat on the panel that accepted Gordon Campbell's Order of B.C. nomination.

Steele under fire for Campbell Order of B.C. award

Surrey councillor says her role was as president of the UBCM

A Surrey councillor is under fire for accepting the Order of B.C. nomination for former Premier Gordon Campbell.

Surrey Coun. Barbara Steele is the president of the UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities) and, as such, was part of the team accepting the nomination.

Steele also ran for the Liberals under Campbell in Surrey-Whalley in the 2005 election, losing to the NDP’s Bruce Ralston.

In calling for nominations for B.C.’s highest honour, Lieutenant Governor Steven Point said in January “it avails us the opportunity to publicly recognize the good works of those in our communities who have gone above and beyond in their efforts to make all our lives better.”

By March 10, there were 179 nominations.

Fourteen of those were selected as winners, including former Premier Gordon Campbell, who resigned in the wake of the reviled Harmonized Sales Tax. The fact that he was included continues to cause a public uproar.

As of Thursday, a Facebook site titled “Gordon Campbell does not Deserve the Order of BC award” had more than 5,000 people “liking” it.

The nominations were received by an advisory committee headed by the Chief Justice of the B.C. Court of Appeal, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, the president of a B.C. university, an associate deputy minister, two previous Order of B.C. recipients, and Steele.

Stephanie Ryan, who will be running for council this year, says Steele is out of touch with her constituents by endorsing the Campbell nomination.

Campbell, she said has not been kind to Surrey, and she charges that Steele “is putting political cronyism ahead of what her constituents in Surrey would want.

”Since Campbell’s appointment is so controversial, Councillor Steele owes the voters of Surrey an explanation as to why she went along with this decision,” Ryan said.

On Thursday, Steele declined to take Ryan up on that offer.

Steele said Campbell’s nomination was above board, and she referred to an announcement made by Chief Justice Lance Finch, who noted the Campbell nomination was in keeping with the act because he is no longer in political office.

When asked about the optics of accepting his nomination, being a former Liberal candidate, Steele said she was acting as president of the UBCM.

She said the spokesman for the panel is the chief justice and referred all comments to him.

Regarding Ryan’s allegations, she said that’s just one person’s opinion.

“I don’t have a response to it,” Steele said. “No comment.”

 

Other winners of the 2011 Order of B.C. include:

Ken Dobell, long-time Vancouver City manager and then deputy to Gordon Campbell

David Emerson, a former senior B.C. bureaucrat who served in two federal cabinets

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

Jim Robson, the voice of hockey in B.C.

@diakiw