50 Coffees #42: Larry Campbell


42 weeks ago I read a theory that going for 50 coffees with people you’ve never met is the entrepreneur’s equivalent to the theory that doing anything for 10,000 hours will make you an expert on it. While I get the idea, 50 coffees is far easier than practicing something for ten years, and while I’m far from lazy I decided to set out on a fairly simple mission: over 50 weeks I’m inviting 50 interesting Vancouverites, most of whom I have never met before, to go for coffee. I’m using this as an exercise in networking for myself and for V.I.A. while also using it as a platform to introduce you to some people who are doing really cool stuff in the city you live in.

Name: Larry Campbell
Occupation: Senator
Beverage: Caesar

Meet Larry Campbell. Former Chief Coroner of BC (Da Vinci’s Inquest!), former Mayor of Vancouver (Da Vinci’s City Hall!) and currently a Canadian Senator (no TV series based on his work in that position yet!).

If you’ve read THIS piece I wrote last weekend about stocking the pond at Bodega Ridge Resort with trout then you’ll already know that we invited Larry to empty the ceremonial first bucket of fish into it with us. He’s a friend of the resort and a friend of other friends of mine and I was fortunate to be invited to his place on Galiano for a couple of dinners while I was working remotely for a few days.

So, in a nutshell, Larry is one of my new favourite people. Over dinner we chatted about the upcoming Honda Celebration of Light fireworks competition (he’s on the board and I’m a juror), fishing came up (he often visits the fishing resorts I dream of featuring in my Super, Neighbours travel series) and he shared some candid opinions on the state of politics in Vancouver, none of which I’m willing or able to share. He also spent a good amount of time busting my chops over the facts that I have no idea how the Canadian Senate works and that I just might be a little bit too positive. Fair enough.

Notice the “Mayor Da Vinci” pin he’s wearing? He came across it as he was cleaning out his car earlier in the day and I managed to score it for my collection of Vancouver memorabilia after we shot the photo. When I mentioned that I was trying to find a Da Vinci’s Inquest DVD box set I learned that he was actually involved in writing and collaborating on some of the episodes, and that he won a Leo for his work on them. Did you know that? I didn’t know that.

I did know that during his tenure as Mayor of Vancouver he spearheaded the approval and establishment of the safe injection site, that he was instrumental in the successful bid to host the 2010 Winter Games and that he was elected as a COPE mayor but exited as a Vision mayor after he helped to found the party. I suppose it should have been no surprise that after I tweeted about dinner with him the attacks started coming in on Twitter from opponents that I didn’t previously know I had. Ah, politics. So much fun. I’m just glad I’m not actually involved and that I simply support good people doing positive things in and for our city and our province.

One of those things is Stop The Violence BC, a coalition concerned with regulating and taxing marijuana, headed up by Dr Evan Wood of UBC and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS. Larry is one of many reasonable and learned individuals (MANY! Including Gregor Robertson, Ujjal Dosanjh, Richard Branson, Sam Sullivan, Philip Owen and Mike Harcourt) who stand in support of STVBC, and I wanted to leave you with a quote from him. Before working as the Coroner he was an RCMP drug officer for 8 years, witnessing the harms of our drug policies. On the subject of marijuana, Larry was once QUOTED in the Province as saying “Legalize it, control it and tax the livin’ hell out of it and put it all into health care, straight in.”. More on that later.

Oh! And while Larry does have a place on Galiano he’s also a neighbour of mine In The Village on False Creek. Hopefully more on that later as well.

Stay tuned for more 50 Coffees!