Public Policy Forum honours four Western Canadians with Peter Lougheed Awards

Sue Paish calls her upbringing unconventional. Raised by immigrant teachers on the land, Sue and her siblings had the opportunity to explore every corner of the Kootenays and British Columbia. It seems funny to her that she would go from a rural B.C. upbringing to become one of the recipients of a Public Policy Forum award for advocating for strong public policy in her province, region and country.

Paish will be one of four recipients of the Peter Lougheed Award at PPF’s Annual Western Dinner on Sept. 19 at the downtown Vancouver Marriott.

Paish, who is now the CEO of Vancouver’s Digital Technology Cluster, grew up in the ’60s and ’70s, when the framework of public policy was focused on Canada having its own identity. She realizes that she’s actually a product of an important time in public policy.

“I grew up when the concept of human rights was being born,” she recalls. “Canada was outspoken on human rights and about governments protecting - but not managing - individuals and their choices of how they want to live.”

Asked about her policy accomplishments, she named being chair of the Vancouver Board of Trade and, more recently, chair of B.C. Business Council. She chaired the board when Vancouver was getting ready to host the Olympics and was very involved in promoting them. She also worked on improving the sustainability of the province’s healthcare system.

As chair of the business council she’s now focused on the importance of human rights and the interdependency of global trade. “I want to make sure we vigorously defend policy that ensures we build a healthy strong economy for all Canadians.”

Sue will be joined by three other distinguished recipients of the award. Fellow award recipient Andrew Petter, the president of Simon Fraser University, said he was humbled and pleased about the award. “Public policy is such an important instrument of democracy,” Petter said.

Looking back on 10 years as a B.C. MLA, including numerous cabinet posts, Petter said he’s proud to have broken new ground in a number of areas.

While he was minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the government recognized indigenous rights and title which created the process that led to the Nisga’a Treaty. “It was a real turning of the page,” he said.

As Forest minister, he helped build a major parks and wilderness strategy. Later, he was the first attorney general in the Commonwealth to speak out in support of same-sex rights.

“I was lucky to be in situations where there was a need to make some fundamental changes,” he said. “I think they’ve been beneficial for the province and for the people of the province as well.”

A third recipient, Sophie Pierre, said she’s surprised and grateful to be among those getting the award.

“I know many Canadians who’ve done good work have been given this award, so it makes me feel proud to be recognized for mine.”

Pierre served her community of ‘Aquam of the Ktunaxa Nation for 30 years, 26 as its elected chief. She was also administrator of the Ktunaxa/Kinbasket Tribal Council for 25 years and served as chief commissioner of the B.C. Treaty Commission for six years.

Finally, recipient Murad Al-Katib, president and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients Inc, has always been passionate about creating business opportunities in rural Saskatchewan. A leader in agri-food trading strategies, he founded in 2001 what is now a billion-dollar business that sells pulses and staple foods globally.