Of the Order of Canada
I see that the Order of Canada recognition for abortion-rights activist Henry Morgentaler is stirring up some trouble. It comes as a surprise, but I should know better. One long-ago nominee has even sent his snowflake pin back to Rideau Hall in protest:
One Order of Canada recipient has already returned his award in protest at Dr. Morgentaler’s appointment. Father Lucien Larre, a Catholic priest in Coquitlam, B.C., who was named to the order 25 years ago after founding a group of homes for troubled youth, said yesterday that he was “trying to make a point that we have to be careful who we give this to,” since it should be “reserved for people who can be models or be inspiring for a majority of Canadians.”
Despite what you’ve read in the DTM, the process involved in awarding the Order of Canada is very much a “government” one. Just look at the membership of the Advisory Council:
ORDER OF CANADA ADVISORY COUNCIL
– the Chief Justice of Canada, who shall act as Chairperson of the Council;
– the Clerk of the Privy Council (ed. note: federal gov’t public servant);
– the Deputy Minister of the Department of Canadian Heritage (ed. note: federal gov’t public servant);
– the Chairperson of the Canada Council (federal government O-I-C appointee);
– the President of the Royal Society of Canada;
– the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada; and
– not more than five additional members appointed by The Governor General on the recommendation of the members of the Council above.
– The Council shall invite the Deputy Minister of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade to participate in the review of nominations for honorary Companions, Officers and Members (ed. note: federal gov’t public servant).
Given that so many members of the current House of Commons are not in favour of abortion rights, it would appear that the two federal public servants on the committee were granted a “recorded vote” on the issue of Dr. Morgentaler’s appointment so that their apparent opposition could be noted. The planning worked wonders, as their “opposition” could now be leaked to the media in a credible attempt to distance the sitting government from this particular award.
Sounds fair enough, but the true motto of the Order is “DESIDERANTES MELIOREM PATRIAM”. Translated from Latin, it means “They desire a better country”.
Whether or not you support Dr. Morgentaler’s role in enhancing a woman’s right to choose, it is difficult to deny that “he” desired a better Canada. It may not be the Canada that everyone wanted, but it would appear that Dr. Morgentaler’s nomination met the criteria.
Ironically, if you compare Dr. Morgantaler’s 30 years of struggle to former Prime Minister Kim Campbell’s vacuous six months in office (another nominee), his name seems all the more deserving of consideration.