Noted poet and novelist George Bowering, in a letter to Lieutenant Governor Steven Point, points out that arts and culture were not represented in this year's Order of British Columbia honours:
I am writing to convey my concerns about this year’s list of recipients of the Order of British Columbia.
Of course I am, like so many people, unhappy about the inclusion of three politicians only recently become normal citizens. As many people have said, if we must honour politicians this way, let it be a considerable time after their political offices have been passed on. If a former Premier has to be honoured, for example, let it be someone as clearly worthy as Dave Barrett or Mike Harcourt.
I believe, further, that according to the rules governing nominations and recipients, office-holders should not appear at least until after their stepping down. Gordon Campbell is not eligible for nomination, I think, because he was still Premier after nominations for the Order closed. But even if we are to skip over that rule, I believe that the Order is not honoured well if it appears, rightly or wrongly, that membership is a kind of political plum.
But that business is not my main concern. My main concern is that while politicians are being welcomed into the Order, people in the arts are not. There are 14 recipients this year, and not one of them is an artist or prominent in the arts world.
I have had a look at the most recent lists of honours recipients in the other nine provinces. There is a total of 118 recipients. 21 of them are in the arts.
They are writers, painters, composers, actors, publishers, conductors, literary critics, and administrators in theatre and music. That is to say: in the nine provinces that are not British Columbia, 18% of recipients are in the arts. In British Columbia the figure is 0%.
My question is this: are we really a province in which art and culture are not thought to be a part of our lives to be honoured and respected? Should people take the message that it will be a fruitless to nominate a sculptor or conductor for a place in the Order of British Columbia?
George Bowering, OBC