The celebrated legal beagle Wallace Taru "Wally" Oppal, QC of Vancouver, is a retired Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judge who has dedicated his life to public service both as an elected official and in his legal profession, and focused many of his efforts on improving the lives of those most vulnerable in society. The Order of British Columbia investiture ceremony will be held for recipients and invited guests at Government House in Victoria on December 14, 2017. It will be webcast live here: http://www.orderofbc.gov.bc.ca
By PD Raj – Senior Writer DESIBUZZCanada
VANCOUVER – The pioneer son of Sikh-Canadians – the Honourable Wallace Taru “Wally” Oppal has been honoured with this year’s selection of the Order of BC along with 15 other outstanding British Columbians.
Oppal is joined by an outstanding group including James Byrnes, Joseph Arvay, Gary Birch, Elaine Carty, Lance S.G. Finch, Dr. Jiri Frohlich, Stanley W. Hamilton, Dr. Rosamund Harrison, Tim Manning, Sarah Morgan-Silvester, Wendy Morton, Paul Myers, Neil Sterritt and Jennifer Wade
Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, chancellor of the Order, announced the list of awardees on Thursday.
"For 28 years, the Order of British Columbia has recognized exceptional individuals whose hard work, generosity of spirit and outstanding achievements have contributed immeasurably to the well-being of our communities," said Guichon. "I extend my congratulations to this year's recipients and thank them for inspiring all of us with their efforts to build a healthy, diverse and inclusive province for generations to come."
"British Columbia is strong because of our people. This year's recipients have dedicated their lives to making B.C. a better place. We commend them for their tremendous achievements and service to our province," said Premier John Horgan.
The celebrated legal beagle Oppal, QC of Vancouver, is a retired Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judge who has dedicated his life to public service both as an elected official and in his legal profession, and focused many of his efforts on improving the lives of those most vulnerable in society.
Over the years, the B.C. government has worked to increase awareness of the Province's highest honour to ensure that outstanding people from all eligible categories and from all parts of the province have an opportunity to be honoured. The Province has received more than 5,600 public nominations for the Order of British Columbia in 28 years.
This year, 175 British Columbians were nominated for the Order. More than half of the nominations came from the Lower Mainland, with the remaining coming from other regions throughout the Province.
Since its inception, 418 British Columbians have been appointed to the Order of British Columbia. Members have been appointed from all regions of the province and in numbers generally proportionate to a region's population.
The Order of British Columbia investiture ceremony will be held for recipients and invited guests at Government House in Victoria on December 14, 2017. It will be webcast live here: http://www.orderofbc.gov.bc.ca
BIO: The Honourable Wallace T. Oppal, QC
Born to immigrant parents in Vancouver, Wally Oppal grew up with a strong work ethic and a will to learn. After finishing broadcasting school he worked in lumber mills and as a disc jockey in order to put himself through his undergraduate and law degrees at UBC. As a visible minority, Wally Oppal pursued a legal career in part because he believed that he could achieve more success in the legal profession than in business. He worked in private practice for fourteen years after graduating from law school, and appeared in approximately 50 homicide trials through his role as a special prosecutor.
Wally Oppal maintains that he "backed into pretty well everything [he] did”. Though he was reluctant to become a judge when he was initially asked by his mentor, Allan McEachern, he was eventually persuaded to do so in 1981. Similarly, he was reluctant to serve on the Court of Appeal, but was ultimately appointed in 2003.
Wally Oppal recounts a meeting with then Prime Minister Paul Martin in which he was asked to run in a federal election so that he could serve as Minister of Justice. After some consternation he turned the offer down to be more present for his young children. However, Wally Oppal did serve as a lawmaker through his role as Attorney General and Minister of Multiculturalism of British Columbia. He was very proactive in the role of Attorney General, and made controversial decisions even within his own ministry, such as the decision to prosecute polygamy in Bountiful, BC.
Wally Oppal describes leading the missing women inquiry into serial killer Robert Pickton as his proudest accomplishment. He is deeply concerned about violence against women in Canada and has offered advice to the current federal government as it seeks to build upon his work.
The advice that he gives to his son, as well as to other law students, is to be an independent thinker, to think outside the box, and to look at the global picture. As a student of history, and having served as both a judge and a lawmaker, Wally Oppal says that lawyers and judges have a special obligation to be vigilant in safeguarding rights and acting as a check against other branches of government.
Wally Oppal visited Allard School of Law in March 2016, and reflected on his rich life experiences in the law school and beyond.
PETER A. ALLARD SCHOOL OF LAW – Class of 1965-1966