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|Senator from British Columbia|
August 2, 2005
|37th Mayor of Vancouver|
|Preceded by||Philip Owen|
|Succeeded by||Sam Sullivan|
|Born||Larry W. Campbell
February 28, 1948
|Occupation||Politician, RCMP, BC Coroner's Service|
Larry W. Campbell (born February 28, 1948) was the 37th Mayor of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and is currently a member of the Canadian Senate. On April 6, 2016 he left the Senate Liberal caucus to sit as an Independent.
Before he was mayor, Campbell worked for the RCMP, and in 1969, was transferred to the Vancouver detachment. From 1973, he served as a member of the force's drug squad. Starting in 1981 Campbell worked for the Vancouver District Coroner's office and in 1996 he was appointed BC Chief Coroner, a post that he served in until 2000.
Originally from Ontario and of Scottish descent, after high school Campbell's grandfather found him a job digging ditches for coaxial cable. Later he was a steel worker as a hand riveter in a boxcar plant in Hamilton. He joined the RCMP on a bet with a Hamilton municipal police officer. He spent about three years in uniform, but did not like to issue traffic tickets. He was transferred to the drug squad in Vancouver where he worked in street enforcement mainly regarding heroin, including undercover work. He started a drug squad in Langley. Throughout his RCMP tenure, he never laid a single marijuana charge.
After serving in the RCMP for 12 years, the provincial chief coroner told him that the new Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms would negatively impact his drug enforcement efforts and convinced him to become Vancouver's coroner. During the emerging AIDS pandemic, he became a strong advocate for progressive harm reduction policies, quipping that needle exchanges causing drug addiction "is like flies causing garbage." He served for 20 years, retiring as chief coroner for the province.
Campbell was elected in 2002 under the banner of the left-wing Coalition of Progressive Electors party. He was the city's first mayor to be elected from the party.
Much of Campbell's success with voters was attributed to his charismatic personality and colorful background. As the city's former chief coroner, his life inspired a popular CBC Television drama called Da Vinci's Inquest. The show was later followed by a spinoff, Da Vinci's City Hall, in which the Da Vinci character followed his real-life counterpart into politics.
Campbell was also popular for his opposition to the provincial government, led by BC premier Gordon Campbell (no relation). Mayor Campbell sought to check the premier's eagerness to host the 2010 Winter Olympics by calling for a city-wide referendum on the bid. The mayor felt that the people needed a say about the Olympics, and since Gordon Campbell refused a provincial-wide referendum, Vancouver was only allowed to hold a non-binding, city-wide plebiscite. Though Mayor Campbell had originally portrayed himself as critical of the bid, he eventually joined the "yes" side and began actively campaigning for it. The "yes" side ultimately won the vote, but only after a long and often highly polarized debate. His decision to "flip-flop" on the issue received widespread criticism, some claim this reflected a "go with the flow" attitude.
Campbell has publicly identified himself as a moderate centrist, although his actions suggest that he was a left leaning candidate. His political positions put him in conflict with some of the leftist members of his Coalition of Progressive Electors party who had expected Campbell to take the city's government in a more social democratic direction once elected.
Shortly after Campbell's election, infighting broke out within his COPE party between the moderate Mayor and his like-minded city councillors versus some of their further left colleagues. On December 14, 2004, Campbell and councillors Jim Green, Raymond Louie and Tim Stevenson announced that they would caucus separately from the other COPE councillors, although did not quit the party. The media quickly dubbed the bloc the "COPE Light" councillors (in contrast to the "COPE Classic" councillors).
Campbell's two main projects in office were the Woodward's building redevelopment designed by architect Gregory Henriquez and the establishment of a safe injection site to help curb Vancouver's injection drug problem. He had championed the idea of a "four pillars" approach to ending drug abuse. With the 1999 signing of the Vancouver Agreement, the Four Pillars was characterized as "Prevention, Treatment, Law Enforcement and Harm Reduction." Campbell promoted the implementation of the safe injection site (opened in September 2003), and the Vancouver Police Department assigned 60 officers to the Downtown Eastside in April 2003.
In 2005 the Mayor announced that he would run for a second term as an independent; however on June 30, 2005, Campbell changed his mind and announced that he would not run for re-election at all in the fall municipal elections that year.
On August 2, 2005, Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Campbell's appointment by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson as a Liberal Senator. Campbell completed his term as mayor before taking up his seat in the Canadian Senate. Critics condemned Campbell's acceptance of the Senate post as hypocritical, as the Mayor had previously cited the fact that he was "not a politician" as a key reason for leaving his job at City Hall.
On January 29, 2014, Liberal Party leader Justin Trudeau announced all Liberal Senators, including Campbell, were removed from the Liberal caucus, and would continue sitting as Independents. According to Senate Opposition leader James Cowan, the Senators will still refer to themselves as Liberals even if they are no longer members of the parliamentary Liberal caucus.
Campbell left the Senate Liberal caucus on April 6, 2016 to sit as an Independent.
Campbell enjoyed widespread popularity with the public during his time as mayor of Vancouver, but some critics believe he showed little patience for the detailed creation of civic government policy. In addition, as noted above, although being the candidate for COPE (Coalition of Progressive Electors), he had no history of association with that party, and after his election, had conflicts with the more left-wing elements of COPE. Although COPE controlled, for the first time in Vancouver history, most of the seats on the Vancouver city council, it became clear that not all COPE members shared common views with the Mayor.
Mayoral campaign prank
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On April 1, 2008, Larry Campbell announced via a morning call-in programme on CBC Radio that he intended to run in the 2008 Vancouver mayoral race. Later in the day his intention to run was revealed to be a prank.
- Biography, larrycampbell.coa
- "The War on Drugs Has Failed. Is Legalization the Answer? -- Closing Plenary". http://bakerinstitute.org/events/the-war-on-drugs-has-failed-is-legalization-the-answer. Rice University's Baker Institute. 2012-03-09. Retrieved 2012-11-12. External link in
- "Da Vinci's City Hall - IMDB". imdb.com. Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- "Trudeau’s expulsion catches Liberal senators by surprise". Globe and Mail. January 29, 2014. Retrieved January 29, 2014.
- "Larry Campbell enters the Vancouver mayoral race: Not!!!", Georgia Straight, April 1, 2008.