Saturday, July 5, 2008

Snowflake Medal

So, I was going to be all irrelevant and just post funny comics, if I felt like posting, since most people are off on some holiday. Or enjoying the damn fine weather we're having. Or wondering about Nadal vs Federer or Williams, V vs Williams, S. to be wanting to think or read about anything serious and thought provoking as honours and abortions and knickers twisting.

And yet, the Canadian media has certainly helped whip up a frenzy this past week over the recent awarding of Dr Henry Morgentaler to the Order of Canada.

For all of you non Canadians, a primer:
Henry Morgentaler is 84 years old, born in Ludz, Poland and was a family doctor who gave up his practice in Montreal to open his first abortion clinic in defiance of the laws of 1968. He endured several trials, assassination attempts, protests, firebombing of his clinic in Toronto and eventually 10 months in jail in his unwavering "committment to increased health care options for women, his determined efforts to influence Canadian public policy and his leadership in humanist and civil liberties organizations." [from the Governor General's website on the award]

This is and always was and will continue to be a very explosive and emotional issue.
I will not wade in with my personal opinion.
The awarding of such honours are not a personal choice of individual Canadians.

Here are some samplings of opinions from people who waded in anyway:

Yay: "Mr Morgentaler ensured the rights of Canadian women to safe and legal abortions without the interference of church, state or pro forma hospital committees. For that reason alone - for the right of all women to be regarded as capable of making a decision whether to bear children - Morgentaler merits the Order of Canada." [Catherine Ford, Calgary Herald]

Nay: "It's not like he did it in a volunteer spirit. He was running for-profit clinics." [Robert Thibeault, MP]

On the fence: "I guess my preference, to be frank, would be to see the Order of Canada be something that really unifies, that brings Canadians together." [Stephen Harper, PM]

The Order of Canada is our country's highest civilian honour. It is meant to recognize a "lifetime of outstanding achievement and dedication to community". Forty-three names are included in the list of Members and 26 as Officers on July 1st. Those have all been overshadowed by this one appointment. In fact, by now, at least one person officially and a few others in letters to the editor have stated they would like to return their medal as they "do not want to be associated" with such a member. One man out of the 4,000 or so other members.

Created in 1967, the order was established to recognize the lifetime contributions made by Canadians who made a major difference to Canada. The first level, Member of the Order of Canada, is awarded for "a lifetime of distinguished service in or to a particular community, group or field of activity." One man, who asked to remain unnamed to avoid media publicity, told that, although he had been named as a recipient for his volunteer activities, he would ask the committee to remove his name from the list. "At first I thought it was a great honour. But right now I'm not sure I'm a proud Canadian. Honour dropped down quite a bit today," he said. [from website]

Now, this is just me, but I admit that out of those 70 names, I only recognised three.
So, I ask of any Canadians out there not watching Wimbledon this weekend, can you name 10 Order of Canada recipients off the top of your heads?
Without cheating?
Who are NOT former Prime Ministers?

The cynical side of me will now list these illustrious few:

  1. CONRAD BLACK - crook
  2. CELINE DION - diva
  3. SUE JOHANSON - sex talker
  4. WAYNE GRETZKY - great one
  6. PIERRE TRUDEAU - loved and hated PM
  7. H SANFORD RILEY - who?
  8. JOE CLARK - Joe Who
  9. MONTY HALL - come on down
  10. JOHN A MACNAUGHTON - Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (look how well that turned out)


  1. I think Celine Dion is fantastic. This was a very interesting post and extremely educational!! Especially for a Sunday when my brain is on total rest!

    CJ xx

  2. yeap watching nadal vs federer
    but rain has played spoil sport

  3. I admit not being able to list many, ok any, of the recipients. All I can say about Morgentaler is that, regardless of anyone being in favour or abortion or not, he was there to provide a safe service instead of the butchers that existed in those days and who would still exist if it was still illegal.

    Now, does that make him deserve a medal? that's the question...

  4. Crystal: personally, me not at all.

    Sandy: the rain has gotten in the way, hasn't it?

    UA: it's a tough call, I guess, but is he less deserving than a drummer for a rock band? and he did help change the law, which is significant. but, who remembers these people for the medal anyway ?

  5. Henry Morgentaler forced the government to give women the right to choose.

    For that alone he deserves the medal.

    Not that anyone will remember within a year or two anyway.

    Besides, if Conrad Black - a convicted criminal - got it, I don't see how Morgentaler is any less deserving.


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