By Greg Douglas – Dr. Sport
SCENE & HEARD: Hastings Racecourse is familiar territory to The Honourable Wallace T. Oppal, O.B.C., Q.C., today’s guest decorator for the 73rd running of the $100,000 BC Premiers Stakes.
But as the man himself will suggest, he is much more comfortable being recognized as just ‘Wally’, born and raised in south Vancouver 79 years ago.
After graduating from UBC Law School, he operated his own law practice and was appointed to the County Court of Vancouver in 1981 and to the Supreme Court of British Columbia in 1985.
From 2005 to 2009 he served as Attorney General of B.C. and Minister responsible for Multiculturalism. He was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2017.
His name is still prominent in today’s legal profession, working out of a downtown office with Boughton Law Corporation and recently having been named to head up the new Surrey police force transition team.
But in a less formal setting, Wally Oppal much prefers to discuss the plight of the Vancouver Canucks, the BC Lions and Toronto Blue Jays.
“Among other things, I’ve been called a sports nut,” he jokes. “I was an original Canucks season ticket holder when Vancouver entered the NHL in 1970 and the top price of a red seat was $5. Me and four other guys bought five seats in a row and never missed a game at the Pacific Coliseum.
“Now I share Canucks season tickets with judges and lawyers that we split six ways. The total cost is $16,400.”
In the Jack Short media room high above track level at Hastings, there are a couple of Wally Oppal pictures that share the gallery of celebrities who’ve been visitors over the years. One includes former Canucks’ star Tony Tanti, legendary radio personality Red Robinson and entertainment entrepreneur Bruce Allen.
But his favourite is with his then-teenaged daughter Jasmine, now 25 and six months away from graduating with a nursing degree at UBC.
“My son Josh was with us that day but missed out on the picture,” Oppal says. “He’s now a criminal defence lawyer with Myers, Karp & Company. I took him to a baseball game in San Diego to celebrate his 30th birthday last week.”
Wallace T. Oppal, OBC, Q.C., is and always has been a friend of the horse racing industry. When you see him today, just call him ‘Wally’.