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Feisty Lieutenant-Governor to speak in Whistler

Former Trudeau-era politician turned Queen’s representative to speak about community leadership

Former journalist, politician and now Lieutenant-Governor, the Honourable Iona Campagnolo, will provide the graduating address to a Whistler leadership development class on Friday, June 16.

Her first visit to Whistler as Lieutenant-Governor is prompted by her interest in community-based leadership, says William Roberts, president of the Whistler Forum — the non-profit group that organized the development program.

“She’s certainly been very much on record in exercising the promotion of community leadership, the kind of leadership required for civil society,” Roberts said. Last fall, after a teleconference meeting from Government House in Victoria with the 16 member-class, Roberts asked Campagnolo to provide the address and she agreed.

Campagnolo was raised in northern B.C. and began her public service career as a school trustee and later as alderman in the mid-1960s. In 1973 she was named broadcast citizen of the year and also received the Order of Canada. Elected as the first woman Member of Parliament for the Skeena region, she served in Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s cabinet as Minister of Sport. Prior to becoming Lieutenant-Governor, she also served as the University of Northern British Columbia’s first chancellor.

Acting Whistler Mayor Ralph Forsyth is one of the graduates the Lieutenant-Governor will be addressing. He said he was skeptical about the 10-month program going in, but skills he’s acquired have widened his perspective and help him to work more effectively as a Whistler councillor.

Working in a group of six on a Sea to Sky arts and culture inventory, Forsyth said he set aside preconceptions and learned to be open to new ideas.

“A lot of the concepts I thought ‘This takes too long. This is airy fairy, pie in the sky kind of B.S.’ - but it actually works,” Forsyth said. “It’s a more productive model.”

Working through a study guide with examples, Forsyth and other participants from Mount Currie to Squamish learned about collaborative leadership, or how not to make decisions on your own. “You learn to get as many people as you can in the tent to make a decision.”

Forsyth recommended a councillor from each region in the Sea to Sky corridor take the $2,900 Whistler Forum program.

Campagnolo will give the luncheon address at the Westin Resort and Spa’s Aubergine Grill. Tickets, $30, are available through Whistler Chamber of Commerce.