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Tyee readers still crazy for Alexandra Morton, who tops Order of BC poll

Last week, Bob Mackin reported on the 25 people named to the Order of B.C. for 2014. The group is the largest since the award was introduced in 1990, and according to Mackin's count, this year's recipients have together given $2 million in direct and indirect contributions to the BC Liberal party since 2005.

As it did in 2011 with the People's Order of B.C., this week The Tyee asked its readers who should receive the province's "highest honour."

And just as in 2011, marine biologist and wild salmon advocate Alexandra Morton was the top vote-getter by a considerable margin.

This year's poll had a smaller sample size than the 2011 competition. As of Thursday afternoon, 157 people had responded to the open-ended question, submitting 182 names for consideration. Morton received 39 of those votes, nearly twice as many as her nearest competitor, Mother Tongue Publishing founder Mona Fertig, who received 22.

Respondents who selected Morton all gave similar reasons, citing her years of hard work protecting wild B.C. salmon fisheries:

"Alexandra Morton as she is dedicated and passionate about protecting our wild salmon. She is a real hero and excellent role model for all of us."

"Alexandra Morton because she has been courageous, intelligent, self-sacrificing and vigilant in focusing our attention on threats to B.C.'s salmon: the deadly effects of supporting fish farms on the migration paths, the disregard of the Cohen Report, and DFO's refusal to engage in and accept scientific testing results, the government's neglect in alerting the public to diseased fish in the marketplace. Alexandra's ability to consult with many First Nations who support and appreciate her efforts has been exemplary. She has inspired people of all ages and played a role the government should have, but shame on them and praise to Alexandra."

Fertig's supporters were also thematically united in praising their candidate:

"For years Mona has worked for the betterment of B.C. writers ahead of her own needs, served on the executive of writers councils, organizations, etc. Not a one off membership but over 40 years of serving her fellow writers. She has also championed writers that would not ordinarily be published and in several incidences they have won both provincial and Canadian recognition. An order of B.C. for Mona Fertig is long overdue."

"Mona Fertig. For many years a devoted contributor to the cultural scene in B.C. and latterly the publisher of a monumental series of beautifully produced art books recognizing many of our very fine but 'unheralded' B.C. artists. This is an act of personal sacrifice and total dedication, and should be recognized."

In addition to being more open-ended than the People's Order of B.C., this week's poll also asked a different question. Rather than creating a new award, it asked who was deserving of the existing one. Many respondents took that as an invitation to comment on the award itself, arguing that it's tarnished. "Nobody" was the third-highest vote-getter, tied with Elizabeth May at 10 votes:

"Nobody associated with Campbell or Clark government -- members of enabler/donors. Certainly NOT Gwyn Morgan"

"Why anyone? It is all just a farce in my opinion. The cost of all this pomp & vanity could be used to upgrade our school system."

Others took the open-endedness of the question as an opportunity for personal gain. At least three people nominated themselves, including one person with a healthy amount of self-esteem who wrote:

"me cuz i'm awesome"

Several other people received more than one nomination, including environmentalist and past Order of B.C. recipient David Suzuki (eight votes), political commentator Rafe Mair (seven votes), Tyee co-founder David Beers (three votes), B.C. teachers (three votes), and anti-poverty activist and 2011 People's Order of B.C. nominee Jean Swanson (three votes), among others.

The Tyee Poll is not a scientific poll, but rather is intended to simply get the pulse of Tyee readers and the wider community. This week's poll will remain open through the end of the day on Sunday.

Ian Holliday is completing a practicum at The Tyee and is the website's resident poll analyst. Follow him on Twitter @Ian_Holliday.

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