The Honourable Gordon Campbell is British Columbia’s 34th premier and leader of the BC Liberal Party. He represents the riding of Vancouver Point Grey. He was elected leader of the BC Liberal Party in 1993 and has been a provincial MLA since 1994.
On May 12, 2009, he achieved electoral history by winning his third consecutive majority government. It is the first time in 60 years that a party has won three consecutive elections. His party won 46 percent of the vote and secured 49 seats. Campbell has been premier since 2001. In the provincial election held on May 16, 2001, his party earned the largest majority (77 of 79 seats) in BC history.
The BC Liberal government has stated it will address important issues such as improving British Columbia’s economic fortunes, creating jobs and addressing climate change. The BC Liberal government has also stated it will also continue to focus on Aboriginal reconciliation. The 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, which have been an important focus during the party’s first two terms in office, will take place in early 2010. British Columbians voted against the Single Transferrable Vote (STV) system, a proposal put forward by the ruling government.
Departing from standard British parliamentary procedure, the BC Liberals introduced fixed-term elections. In addition, the 2001 election had demonstrated the non-proportional nature of the electoral system: while the Campbell Liberals received 57 percent of the popular vote, they won 97 percent of the seats. Consequently, Campbell’s government also founded a Citizens’ Assembly, comprising randomly selected British Columbian’s from around the province, tasked with examining alternate electoral systems for the province. Ultimately, in 2004, the Assembly recommended adopting the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system in future elections. The STV electoral system proposal, however, did not receive enough support in the referendum held in 2005 as part of the election day ballot.
The six-year long tuition freeze for BC colleges and universities implemented by the previous NDP government also ended during Campbell’s first term. In 2004, the government announced that 25,000 new post-secondary places would be established between 2004 and 2010. The most significant areas to benefit from the expansion include the Fraser Valley, with 8,000 places, and the Okanagan/Central Interior, with 6,300 new places.
In the May 17, 2005 election, Campbell and the BC Liberals won a second majority government (albeit with significantly fewer seats). In September 2005, the BC Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) held an illegal strike in violation of Bill 12, which shut down all public school services in the province for two weeks. Campbell and his Cabinet held firm, as did the teachers. The strike did not end until mediator Vince Ready was called in, after multiple contempt-of-court orders were issued against the BCTF.
Campbell entered provincial politics in 1993 when he was elected Leader of the BC Liberal Party. In 1994, he won a seat in the BC Legislature with a by-election win in the riding of Vancouver—Quilchena. In the 1996 and 2001 provincial general elections, he was re-elected as the MLA for the constituency of Vancouver—Point Grey. Prior to that, Campbell was elected to Vancouver City Council in 1984, and then became Mayor, serving in this capacity from 1986 to 1993. During his tenure as Mayor, Campbell was a strong advocate for literacy and literacy issues; he was instrumental in the creation of a new public library and helped bring the Peter Gzowski golf tournament, in support of literacy, to Vancouver.
Born in Vancouver in 1948, Campbell attended University Hill Secondary School. He pursued post-secondary studies at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. He married his wife Nancy in 1970. They have two sons, Geoffrey and Nicholas.
Campbell and his wife moved to Yola, Nigeria in the early 1970s, where he coached state championship teams in basketball and track-and-field and assisted in rebuilding the local school library. Upon their return to Canada, Campbell worked from 1973 to 1976 as an Executive Assistant to Vancouver Mayor Art Phillips. Campbell subsequently pursued a career in real estate, joining Marathon Realty in 1976. In 1978, he graduated with a Master of Business Administration degree from Simon Fraser University, after attending the Executive MBA program at nights while working. In 1981, Campbell founded Citycore Development Corporation.
He has been awarded the Simon Fraser University “Distinguished Alumni” Award, as well as the “Man of the Year” Award by the Brotherhood Interfaith Society of Vancouver.