BC Premier: Gordon Campbell
|This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P.,
has an exclusive interview with the Honorable Gordon
Campbell, the 34th Premier of British Columbia. Mr.
Campbell attended Dartmouth College on scholarship
receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree and he later
received his master’s of business administration
from Simon Fraser University. Mr. Campbell has a
most distinguished career in the public and private
sector having founded Citycore Development
Corporation and serving as Mayor of Vancouver for
three successive terms.
Q: Thank you for agreeing to this interview. You
have a most remarkable career; what does your wife
Nancy and your sons think about your countless
successes and your long history being in the public
A: My wife and sons think of me as a partner and a
dad first. Our whole family backs one another up in
each of our chosen endeavours. I think my mum taught
each of her kids an important lesson: “We live in a
very special place where people can accomplish their
goals if they work for them.” My wife and boys have
been my biggest supporters and I can honestly say
without strong family support it is not possible to
do this job or my previous tasks in public life.
Q: Few people realize that you also worked your way
through college. Can you describe your experiences
from your college years?
A: They were one of the truly great times in my
life. I had great teachers who literally opened
whole new worlds for me. I majored in English but I
also had professors in urban studies who kindled my
excitement about the potential of our cities. I love
the challenge of ideas and the rigour of true
debate. I have friends from college and ideals from
college years that I simply will not forget. Strong
and relentless pursuit of ideas and principles are
the foundation of most of what I have tried to do.
My work experience from those days was mostly fun
and excited my interest in educational
administration and in the importance of education
and liberal arts in the development of a society of
Q: You also served as a teacher, basketball and
track coach in Yola Nigeria working under the
auspices of CUSO. Can you share a story or two with
us from those times? Also, what defining lessons did
A: I loved my time in Nigeria. There are few things
as rewarding as watching the light in a student’s
eyes as he learns something that connects and gets
him excited. Coaching is like teaching: it’s a way
of passing on your passion about something. It was
great to watch as young men who I coached discovered
what they could accomplish with discipline, hard
work and teamwork. We won state championships and I
was a coach for a state team at a National
Championship in Track and Field.
Teaching and coaching are also similar because you
learn so much about yourself as you share your
interests and passions with young people. As an
English teacher I had to teach Shakespeare’s “Julius
Caesar” to my students as part of the curriculum. I
worked hard to explain Mark Anthony’s famous speech.
When I finished one of my students who had
transferred into my class came up to me and said
“Kai, Sir, this literature is too, too interesting.”
It made my day.
Q: Is there one other story you can share with us
from your life prior to becoming Premier of BC?
Perhaps, you can talk about your time at Marathon
Realty, starting Citycore Development Corporation or
your time as Mayor?
A: I think one of the most important stories I can
relate is about how lucky we are to live in a
country like Canada. It’s a place where an
individual can help shape the future with the
strength of a good idea. When Rand Iredale an
architect came forward with his plan to rejuvenate
False Creek with a stadium, most of the vested
interests said it was crazy. But Rand persisted
because he knew what could happen if the City and
province would just take the right steps. It was his
initiative and drive that brought us the stadium
downtown, that brought us what was first called
Transpo and then became Expo 86; because of Expo we
got the Trade and Convention Centre and the Skytrain
and the redevelopment of False Creek. All those
changes came because one citizen would not give up
on an idea about how he thought we could make his
city and province a better place for all of us.
Sometimes people take that gift for granted. I think
it’s important not to take any of those gifts for
Q: The information technology (IT) sector is an
important part of the BC economy. Where do you see
this sector now, in two years, five years, and then
A: The Premier’s Technology Council has done an
excellent job of mapping out a future where our
technology sector is world-renowned. We can see the
impact of their work today and we will continue to
build on it.
Q: In terms of IT education, where do you see the
delivery options and curriculum evolving, such as in
colleges, universities, private institutions,
on-line education providers? How will the government
shape this evolution?
A: We made a commitment in the last election to
double the number of electrical and computer
engineers and computer scientists that were
graduating from our advanced education institutions
by 2006. We have met that commitment with funding of
$150 million over five years. Our tax changes have
helped our industry to keep the best British
Columbians here at home and to attract the world’s
best here. We have changed regulatory regimes to
reflect the importance of flexibility in the
technology industry. Finally, we are working to
connect all B.C. communities to the opportunities of
the Internet with high-speed, broadband access.
Q: How would you contrast the IT industry in Canada
versus other countries?
A: Canadians are more connected but we have lots to
do to maximize our current situation. In a country
as large as ours we have to develop the tools
necessary to make the “last mile” connection in some
of our more remote rural and northern communities.
Q: In 1989, the Information Systems Professional
(ISP) designation was introduced by the Canadian
Information Processing Society to ensure a high
standard of professionalism in the IT profession.
The professional designation provides to the
certified individual, credibility, professional
image, and career development while maintaining the
highest standards of practice, ethics, and public
protection. What are your views in this area?
A: We have to develop delivery mechanisms that will
assure all Canadians and British Columbians become
Internet literate. It creates economic opportunities
and spans great distances. All of us are learning in
this rapidly changing landscape where time and
distance are effectively collapsing. We should not
underestimate the societal challenge that creates.
Q: What programs and initiatives can help new IT
companies get a foothold and allow existing
companies to compete against foreign corporations
locally and internationally?
A: Better ideas and the free flow of individual
imaginations are the critical components of
strengthening opportunities. I am not sure
governments can program that, but I believe we can
get out of the way of it. We also have to develop
the economic framework for far more venture
capitalism so more people have the resources
necessary for exploring the frontiers of
Q: Where do you see IT education evolving in public
schools, K to 12?
A: Our hope is to grow the economy and to have
additional resources for more computer education for
teachers and students alike. But also we have to do
more to encourage physical education and arts and
music programs. The public education system should
be leading in the development of a creative
curriculum that taps into the passions of each
student in a way that is positive and that
recognizes the diversity of learning.
Q: Are there particular sectors in IT that you feel
show great promise?
A: Clearly in B.C. we have some special niches we
should be pursuing but I think that is best decided
by those who are developing new product and new
ideas for their customers and for society as a
whole. Government has to listen to those in the IT
sector to discover how to do that and then to act on
Q: Can you share a story or two as Premier?
A: I am very hopeful about the contribution the
technology sector can make to our traditional
industry in B.C. I visited one mill that had applied
two software programs developed in small B.C. forest
towns. Those two programs had increased the
productivity of the mill making it more competitive
and making the workers’ jobs more secure. I’d like
to see that story repeated in forestry, agriculture,
mining, energy development and fisheries to help us
reach our public goals.
Q: Can you describe some of the projects that you
have worked on and lessons you have learned?
A: I have been involved in a huge number of projects
in the last year. Each has its own set of challenges
and lessons but one principle is constant. People
are talented and if you listen to them and learn
from them, if you challenge them to think beyond the
limits of previous performance, it is amazing what
they can accomplish. B.C. is going to become a
leader in the creative economy and I believe we will
surprise ourselves with our successes.
Q: We have many young professionals in our audience;
can you share your leading career tips?
A: Follow your passion and don’t let up. We may not
accomplish everything we want exactly when we would
like to but we can accomplish anything with
commitment and perseverance if we think of others as
well as our own goals.
Q: Where do you see your career evolving over the
next thirty years?
A: I hope to be involved with learning and teaching
throughout my life. I would like to be able to
continue in public service for the foreseeable
future here in B.C. But I see other global
objectives that each of us can contribute to.
Whether it is the horrendous impact of AIDS on
Africa or global hunger, there is no challenge that
is beyond our reach to make a contribution to a
solving as a citizen of Canada.
Q: If you were doing this interview, what three
questions would you ask of someone in your position
and what would be your answers?
A: You have done a pretty good job here.
Q: It’s a blank slate, what added comments would you
like to give?
A: I would just want to reiterate a point I have
made before. We are incredibly lucky to live in
Canada. That does not mean we do not have problems.
It does not mean we are perfect. It does mean we
live in one of the few places in the world where
each of us can contribute and pursue our own dreams.
So to everyone I would say follow your passion and
pursue your dream. Do not give up. We live in a
place where you can shape your own future. It will
not be easy but it will be worthwhile. You can
define your life with your dreams and in doing so,
you contribute to the well-being of your community,
your province and your country. The future is in
Q: Thank you for sharing your valuable insights with
us today and we look forward to watching your career
as it continues to make a substantive mark in
history, our country, and in the international
A: Thank you