From our other magnificent corner of the web at Royal Salute
The Order of Canada is a civilian honour, and because it flows from the Sovereign, it's integrity and the guarding of it's reputation is important.
There have been some unfortunate cases concerning the Order of Canada, either according to the criteria used to appoint someone to the Order or that which wasused to remove persons from the Order, where division, instead of unity, has been unecessarily caused. This does not reflect well on the guardianship of the honour.
It has been reported that, according to Marie-Pierre Belanger in the Governor-General’s office, consideration is being given to the possibility of removing Conrad Black, Lord Black ofCrossharbour, from the Order of Canada.
Although the 'applicant' for this action is not identified, we expect that the reason given is because of a criminal conviction of Lord Black, according to American lawin an American court; ironically for charges that by most accounts, would never have been brought against him in a Canadian court. Indeed the credibility of the American conviction itself remains suspect.
There is a provision for the Advisory Council of the Order to recommend the removal ofa person from the Order if they have been convicted of a crime in Canada or otherewisewhose conduct has brought dishonour to the Order.
At royalsalute, we believe that for the Governor-General to remove an honour that has been granted to a person in recognition of their past distinguished contribution to Canada, it is essential that any suggestion or hint of political bias be removed absolutely in such an important matter. If the Advisory Council for the Order truly believes that a person should be removed, it ought to be for the most serious of reasons that cannot betraced to any kind of personal interest on the part of the applicant or the membersof the Council.
Lord Black is a controversial figure more for his being required to unecessarily renounce his Canadian citizenship in order to accept an appointment to the House of Lords than he is for his recent American adventure. In fact, it was the abuse of political power itself that 'cornered' Conrad Black. The old canard and myth of the 'Nickle Resolution' was used against him by the government of the day; a practice that really must be legislated to a halt once and for all. There are many Canadians who continue to receive honours from the UK.
The world of 'honours' itself ought not to be such a messy business. The respect and appreciation for an honour such as the Order of Canada, should alsobe of such strength that it cannot easily be intimidated or weakened because of the behaviour, personality, lifestyle or even foolish conduct of a member. Indeed, the Council that approves the awarding of the honour needs to take greater care of the reputation of the Order by the criteria it uses for those who receive it.
There are many highly distinguished, extremely accomplished Canadians, including those who serve or have served in the military and who have given enormously to their country but who have not received the Order of Canada; whilst there are many who have received the honour who have not lived in Canada for years but whose celebrity status, especially in the USA, is unfortunately regarded as the same as one who has made the contribution of a lifetime to Canada. These inconsistencies really ought to be rectified and are more urgently to be reviewed than the obviously thin argument against Lord Black.
We urge His Excellency, the Governor-General, and the Advisory Council to consider the precedent established by HM King George in the case of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most distinguished honour in Canada and all Commonwealth Realms. When a man who had been awarded the VC was found guilty of a crime in 1920 the question of his having his VC rescinded came before the King. HM felt very strongly that the Victoria Cross should never be forfeited. In a letter from Lord Stamfordham, his Private Secretary, on 26 July 1920, his views are forcibly expressed:
The King feels so strongly that, no matter the crime committed by anyone on whom the VC has been conferred, the decoration should not be forfeited. Even were a VC to be sentenced to be hanged for murder, he should be allowed to wear his VC on the scaffold.
The Victoria Cross is higher than the Order of Canada and even the Order of Merit which is also higher than the Order of Canada. It certainly is higher than the status of 'Officer' of the Order of Canada currently possessed by Lord Black.
There is wisdom in the King's judgment.
Gregory Benton, 14 Sep 2011