Saturday, October 27, 2012

Order of Canada Special Pleading

Email to the Toronto Star, October 28, 2102. Unpublished.

Re Court orders Black to play by the rules, Oct. 26:

"It can no longer be said that Orders of Canada are awarded as a result 
of an impartial consideration of merit," according to Michael Bliss, 
professor emeritus, University of Toronto. Dr. Bliss was informed, 
"Once a candidate has been  considered and judged not suitable, 
the file is only re-opened if there are significant new achievements
that justify reconsideration." 

He was referring to the reconsideration given to Dr. Henry 
Morgentaler after the doctor's first nomination had been rejected. He 
made no new achievements, unless one considers more abortions
as adding to his oeuvre. Yet, he was awarded the Order on second
appeal. In violating its own rules, the advisory committee indulged 
in the "politicization of the process".

This comes to mind in the advisory committee's rejection of Conrad 
Black's request to make oral submission to defend his Order of
Canada.The refusal was based on the advisory committee's rules.
Dare we deem the committee applies its rules when politically
*  *  *

The complete letter of Dr. Bliss in the July 5, 2008 issue of The 
Globe and Mail:

Your good coverage of the Morgentaler appointment to the Order of 
Canada misses a vital procedural issue. It appears that the advisory 
committee reopened the Morgentaler file and reversed previous 
decisions by earlier advisory committees.

In the course of trying to nominate people for the Order of Canada, 
I have been told that once a candidate has been considered and 
judged not suitable, the file is only reopened if there are significant
new achievements that justify reconsideration (such as a novelist
adding significantly to a body of work).

It is fairly obvious that there are no significant new achievements
in the Morgentaler case. Instead, it appears the advisory committee
has singled him out for reconsideration, violating past procedures
and discriminating against other worthy Canadians whose files are
closed, and that it has done this in response to an intense
lobbying effort.

The result, is, prima facie, a politicization of the process. It can no
longer be said that Orders of Canada are awarded as a result of an
impartial consideration of merit. Instead, getting honoured depends
on who you know and getting lucky in the committee position of the
advisory committee.

Michael Bliss, professor emeritus, University of Toronto

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