Sea to Sky MP John Weston will receive the highest honour of the Rotary Club from two of the organization’s local branches on Thursday (Feb. 20).
The politician is being recognized for encouraging the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to extend a program that matched donations to the Rotary Club by up to $1 million to eradicate polio. In total, $2.27 million was raised.
“In the late ‘90s Rotary launched a program to eradicate polio,” said Patrick McCurdy, president of the Rotary Club of Whistler Millennium. “It’s now down to two countries, the rest of the world is polio-free… John Weston took the time to assist (in our fundraising). It’s not a political thing at all. It’s a guy who’s done a great job to recognize a need and went to bat to make sure extra funding would be put towards the cause.”
The award, dubbed the Paul Harris Fellow, is often handed out to Rotarians who donate $1,000 to one of the programs the Rotary funds, over time or all at once. But rarely is the honour handed out to a non-member. “The last time was probably seven or eight years ago,” McCurdy said.
The Rotary Clubs of Whistler Millennium and Pemberton planned to present Weston with the award last year, but have not been able to secure a time for the ceremony until this month. It will be held on Feb. 20 at the Pan Pacific Mountainside Hotel during the club’s meeting.
Weston said he’s honoured that the clubs chose him for the award. “I am very humbled by the recognition that the (Rotary Clubs) have decided to bestow on me,” Weston said in an email. “The effort to end polio is the work of an international team and I played one small part in that effort. I followed the lead of Patrick McCurdy and other Rotarians who asked me to help promote Rotary’s excellent initiative. I am delighted that the Government of Canada answered our call and the call of many others to match Rotary’s ambitious goal.”
Rotary Clubs are not affiliated with any specific government party and members wanted to emphasize the award is not political, although Weston is a Conservative. “There was a discussion about clarifying this is not in any way a politically motivated initiative,” McCurdy said. “This is not directed at the Conservative party, it’s recognizing someone for doing their job really well and going above and beyond.”