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Campbell's order valid, but critics still wary of award

The criticism surrounding Gordon Campbell's nomination to receive the Order of British Columbia has gained more gumption with a petition claiming that Campbell is technically ineligible to receive the honour, but a B.C. government spokesperson says the award is valid.

The online petition "Gordon Campbell is ineligible to Receive the 2011 Order of BC" has more than doubled in signatures since its creation Friday, which sprang up soon after Campbell's nomination was announced.

The petition claims that according to the Order of British Columbia website, a citizen may not be nominated while holding an elected position in federal, provincial or municipal government. Nominations for this year's Order of British Columbia closed on March 10th, 2011. Campbell did not step down as MLA until March 14th, 2011.

The petition -- which has more than 4,000 signatures -- asks that the Order of British Columbia rescind Campbell's nomination.

However, a B.C. government spokesperson, referencing the Provincial Symbols and Honours Act, said that nominations can be made while the nominee is holding political office, as long as they no longer hold any position by the time they are appointed. The office of B.C. Lieutenant-Governor Steven Point appointed the 2011 recipients on Sept. 2, including Campbell, a former mayor of Vancouver and B.C. premier under the BC Liberal party from 2001 to 2011.

The CBC reported Monday that some critics have scorned Campbell's nomination, saying it's too soon since his departure from politics. Tyee writer Bill Tieleman, quoted in the article, also questioned the connections many of the Order of British Columbia advisory council members have to the BC Liberal party. Barbara Steele is a former Liberal candidate, Bill Barisoff is a Liberal MLA and John Furlong, who won the Order of British Columbia last year, was appointed by Campbell to run the Olympics.

The spokesperson said no one has ever had the Order of British Columbia rescinded in the past, and that the Order can't reveal the names of who nominated individuals for consideration for the award, as nomination materials are confidential. They also said that the selection process is based purely on public nominations, determined by merit and free from any external influence.

Grace Scott is completing a practicum at The Tyee.

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