Lieutenant Governor Visits Tumbler Ridge

Her Honour, Iona Campagnolo, the Lieutenant Governor of BC, blew through town as part of a whirlwind tour of Northeastern BC.

She spent just over three hours in Tumbler Ridge on Tuesday, May 11, making stops at both schools, the Peace Region Paleontology Research Centre (PRPRC), the Community Centre and Town Hall.

Her first stop of the day was at TRE, where she spent about 20 minutes with Ms. Locker?s class. After a short talk about what it means to be Lieutenant Governor, she answered questions from the kids about what she does, where she is from and what?s her favourite Hockey Team. This last question elicited a great story from Campagnolo, who served as Minister of Sport in Pierre Trudeau?s Cabinet. She recalled attending an International Game shortly after it was announced that all players had to wear helmets when playing Internationally, a move that upset many NHL players, who did not. Canada lost the game, and Phil Espisito, she says, blamed the loss on the helmets. In anger, he skated to the boards, where Campagnolo sat next to the International Hockey Commissioner. Espisito took off his helmet, says Campagnolo, and whipped it at the commissioner?s head. ?I jumped up,? said Campagnolo, ?and caught the helmet. Then I turned to the commissioner and said ?look, he has thrown me his helmet, just like a matador would the ears of a bull.??

As Lieutenant Governor, Iona Campagnolo is the representative of the Queen in Canada and in BC. She is the head of state for BC. ?In the United States, when you see George Bush, you are seeing the Head of State and the Head of Government,? said Campagnolo. ?In Canada, we have chosen to keep those two separate. In BC, the head of state is the Lieutenant Governor, while the head of Government is the Premier.?

As the Queen?s representative, the Lieutenant Governor takes precedence over everyone in the province except the Queen. But her role, says Campagnolo, is non-partisan and non-political. All legislation must receive Royal Assent before it becomes law, and must be signed by the Lieutenant Governor. ?I was appointed to this position,? says Campagnolo, when asked if she could, if she wanted to, not sign a Bill into Law, ?while the government was elected democratically.? And while it is possible that she could choose not to sign a Bill into Law, to go against the democratically elected government would go against the very basis of democracy. Does she agree with everything she signs? The answer is unequivocal: ?No.? But she signs anyway.

Campagnolo says that the role of the Lieutenant Governor is an extremely important one. While she wields no political power in practice, political power always remains with the crown, and it is important for the government to be reminded that the power of state is above partisan politics, and above the conflicts and divisions of the democratic process.

After leaving TRE, the Lieutenant Governor made her way to TRSS, where a mix of students and community members heard her speak on the responsibility of the individual to choose their own destiny.

After a personal tour of the PRPRC, Campagnolo and retinue made their way to the Community Centre, where she officially opened the Alex Monkman display. After a stand up lunch, Charles Helm gave a slide show showing off the natural beauty of the area for the Lieutenant Governor , who spent a few minutes at Town Hall before departing for the next stop on her trip.

In addition to Tumbler Ridge, Campagnolo made stops in Dawson Creek, Pouce Coupe, Chetwynd, Hudson?s Hope, Charlie Lake, Fort St. John, Taylor, Fort Nelson, Muncho Lake, Laird Hot Springs, Lower Post, Watson Lake and Upper Liard.