WALLY Oppal is among the 16 exceptional civic leaders who will be appointed to the Order of British Columbia, the Province’s highest form of recognition, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon, Chancellor of the Order, announced on Thursday.
“For 28 years, the Order of British Columbia has recognized exceptional individuals whose hard work, generosity of spirit and outstanding achievements have contributed immeasurably to the well-being of our communities,” said Guichon. “I extend my congratulations to this year’s recipients and thank them for inspiring all of us with their efforts to build a healthy, diverse and inclusive province for generations to come.”
“British Columbia is strong because of our people. This year’s recipients have dedicated their lives to making B.C. a better place. We commend them for their tremendous achievements and service to our province,” said Premier John Horgan.
Oppal’s citation reads: “Wally Oppal, QC of Vancouver: Retired Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judge Oppal dedicated his life to public service both as an elected official and in his legal profession, and focused many of his efforts on improving the lives of those most vulnerable in society.”
According to the official backgrounder: “He supported himself through University by working in the lumber industry. After practising criminal law, primarily as Crown Counsel, he was appointed to Supreme Court Justice, community advocate, Attorney General and champion of violence against women. He has been the commissioner on two landmark inquiries in British Columbia.
“While he sat on the Supreme Court bench he was appointed to conduct a commission of inquiry into policing in British Columbia, which led to many reforms including the establishment of an Office of a Public Complaint Commissioner, guidelines around use of force, high speed chases, use of firearms for police and recommendations for diversity in policing.
“During his years as Attorney General, there were many significant reforms in the civil and criminal justice systems including the establishment of a Community Court to deal with chronic offenders in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. The rules of the Supreme Court were reformed in order to make alternative dispute resolution mandatory in many cases, to help speed up justice.
“He was the commissioner of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, in investigating the disappearance of dozens of women who became victims of serial killer Robert Pickton. His 63 recommendations resulted in a number of legislative changes redefining missing persons and police responses to missing women.
“He has never forgotten his roots – being son of a widowed housekeeper – and advocates for many worthy causes, helping to raise tens of millions of dollars. He has been a trailblazer for the South Asian community around the world as he was the first judge of Indian heritage outside India.
“He has been recognized for his contribution with a number of honors including the Georges A. Goyer, Q.C., Distinguished Service Award; Annual Bench Award from the Trial Lawyers Association of British Columbia; Lawyers Assistance Program of B.C., Lawyer Helping Lawyer Award; Anthony P. Pantages, Q.C., Medal for Outstanding Contributions in the Field of Public Safety; South Asian Bar Association, Pioneer Award; Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of the Fraser Valley; Honorary Fellow, Douglas College; Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award; Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award; World Sikh Organization, Leader Award; and CACOLE, Mitchell-Lewis Award for Outstanding Contribution to Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement in Canada.”
This year, 175 British Columbians were nominated for the Order. More than half of the nominations came from the Lower Mainland, with the remaining coming from other regions throughout the Province.
Since its inception, 418 British Columbians have been appointed to the Order of British Columbia. Members have been appointed from all regions of the province and in numbers generally proportionate to a region’s population.
Recipients of the Order of British Columbia are selected by an independent advisory committee.
The Order of British Columbia investiture ceremony will be held for recipients and invited guests at Government House in Victoria on December 14.
It will be webcast live here: http://www.orderofbc.gov.bc.ca