Jean Swanson, Michael Walker, and Emily Molnar among Vancouver residents named to Order of Canada

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      Today, Governor General David Johnston announced that Vancouver's foremost antipoverty crusader and the city's most influential voice on the right have each joined the Order of Canada.

      Jean Swanson is beloved on the Downtown Eastside for devoting her life to improving housing conditions and alleviating poverty. She's a volunteer with the Carnegie Community Action Project. In 1988, she ran for mayor with the Coalition of Progressive Electors, losing to the incumbent, Gordon Campbell.

      Some of Swanson's finest work occurred as head of the National Anti-Poverty Organization (now called Canada Without Poverty), where she made the case that the Jean Chrétien government's elimination of national welfare standards in 1995 would lead to an inevitable race to the bottom among provinces.

      (A year ago, I wrote an article on this website declaring that Swanson should be honoured for her tireless fight against legislated poverty.)

      Swanson joins the Order of Canada on the same day as economist Michael Walker, the long-time executive director of the Fraser Institute.

      The free-market think tank was founded in 1974 to advance the ideas of right-wing economists Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek.

      Then B.C. premier Bill Bennett was largely influenced by Walker and other Fraser Institute economists when he introduced the restraint program in the depths of the recession of the early 1980s.

      Former Fraser Institute researchers sometimes moved into influential positions in the media and one, Danielle Smith, eventually became leader of the Wildrose Party in Alberta.

      Other Vancouver residents who became members of the Order of Canada today are long-time money manager Richard Bradshaw, businessman Hassan Khosrowshahi (also a big Fraser Institute supporter), science educator Shar Levine, and Ballet B.C. artistic director Emily Molnar.

      Last month, Molnar was featured in a Georgia Straight cover story to coincide with the dance company's 30th anniversary.

      Former broadcasting executive and West Vancouver resident Donald Brinton also became a member of the Order of Canada.

      Deep-sea explorer Phil Nuytten, wine-industry leader Anthony von Mandl, and women's health advocate Dorothy Shaw were the only three Vancouver residents appointed as officers of the Order of Canada, which is one rank higher than member.