We lost one of the best of us recently. A COPE executive member recalled the day that Brian came by the 2014 COPE Campaign office. He gave a very generous donation. Last September he was part of the group that brought Ian Angus to Vancouver and he took the opportunity to encourage the left to work together to stop climate change. These are only two small examples of the life of this man.
Gene McGuckin who knew him well wrote the following summary. Please add your thoughts and memories.
Brian Campbell
“Brian Campbell, a well-loved, highly respected, and inspiring activist in many progressive struggles, was a veteran of Vancouver municipal politics.
He wanted to live beyond his 73 years, so he could keep contributing to the fight for a saner, safer, and more just world.
But shortly after Christmas, to the sadness of many, his long battle with cancer ended.
A socialist for decades, Brian was a key leader of the New Democratic Party’s 1970s quest for Vancouver City Hall. He ran twice for mayor and, according to a comrade,
was the glue holding together a collective of serious fighters in the party’s Vancouver Area Council.
Besides elected positions, they fought for a host of progressive policies. They were especially strong on tenants’ rights and rent controls, while opposing demolition
of existing housing. They also gave strong, public support to striking workers, notably those in a fierce struggle by city bus drivers, and in a defiant work stoppage at
CKLG Radio for a ground-breaking first contract in electronic media.
In those years it was Brian who first coined the term “executive city” in predicting that Vancouver would become what it has, a city for the rich.
Brian expanded a commitment to Christianity in his younger days to a wider concept of morality and spirituality, one that led him frequently—right up until a few months
before his death—to picket lines, protest rallies, and marches.
A 25-year career at the Vancouver Public Library made him its Systems and Planning Director and a key player in computerizing the service. But even more important was
Brian’s tireless defense of free speech and promotion of free access to information—inside and outside libraries. He was part of the original campaign to push the
BC government to adopt a freedom of information law. In the community, he devoted energy to keeping the People’s Co-op Bookstore open. In 2015, the
Canadian Library Association named him recipient of their Advancement of Intellectual Freedom in Canada Award.
Outside his job Brian was a central figure in several progressive efforts, to which he generously contributed time, money and hard work—often for years.
These include the Boycott Israel Apartheid Campaign (BIAC), the Seriously Free Speech Committee (SFSC), COPE, the Prepare the General Strike Committee, and the
Vancouver Ecosocialist Group.
Brian’s absence has created an almost visible empty space, a hollow silence in the many places where his wise, passionate, friendly face and speech and laughter once were. It will take quite a while to get used to that. Heartfelt solidarity with those who know this most acutely—Brian’s wife, Gillian, and their children and grandchildren.”
— Gene McGuckin

Remember Brian Campbell