Order has its hits and misses

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The Article

On June 29, Governor General Michaelle Jean announced the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Brent Hawkes to the Order of Canada. He is the pastor of Toronto’s Metropolitan Community Church and one of the foremost proponents of same-sex marriage in Canada.

Earlier this year, Jean also invested Michele Landsberg into the Order of Canada, not as an ordinary Member like Hawkes, but with the higher rank of an Officer. Landsberg is a radical feminist, left-wing journalist and one of the most notorious proponents of abortion on demand in Canada.

Critics of these appointments should direct their ire not at Prime Minister Stephen Harper but at Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada. She is the ex-officio head of the advisory council that recommends Order of Canada recipients to the Governor General.

Jean has also recently designated former Liberal prime minister Jean Chretien and former Reform party leader Preston Manning as Companions of the Order of Canada. In Manning’s case, the distinction is both well deserved and most exceptional. Over the past 40 years, few of the social activists among the more than 5,000 recipients of the Order of Canada have been social conservatives: The overwhelming majority have been liberals and left-wingers.

Notably missing from the ranks of the Order of Canada are eminent Canadians such as Dr. L. L. (Barrie) deVeber, professor emeritus in pediatrics and oncology at the University of Western Ontario. He is also the former director of the pediatric hematology and oncology program at the Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario.

DeVeber is an internationally recognized pioneer in palliative pediatric care and serves as the president of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition of Ontario. He is also the founding president of the deVeber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research, an organization previously known as the Human Life Research Institute that was renamed in his honour in 1996.

As a medical researcher, professor, clinician and community volunteer, deVeber ranks among the most accomplished of contemporary Canadians. Yet he holds no rank whatever in the Order of Canada.

Among the many other prominent social conservatives who richly deserve the Order of Canada is Salim Mansur, associate professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario. He is internationally renowned as an outspoken Muslim champion of freedom and democracy.

Mansur, also a Sun Media columnist, has frequently appeared on network television and written extensively for newspapers and magazines in Canada and the United States. He is a founder of the Washington-based Centre for Islamic Pluralism; a member of the academic council for the Centre for Security Policy, also based in Washington, D.C.; and a senior fellow with the Canadian Coalition for Democracies.

Granted, not everyone admires Mansur. In a letter in November to UWO president Paul Davenport, Mohammed Elmasry, national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, denounced Mansur for having allegedly published opinion-based columns that “consistently denigrate Islam and Muslims” and “are filled with hate-literature expressions.”

Elmasry is hardly in a position to level such charges. In 2004, he was subjected to a hate-crime investigation (albeit never charged) by the Halton regional police for having stated on the Michael Coren television program that all Israeli citizens over the age of 18 are fair targets for assassination by Palestinian suicide bombers.

Like Mansur, deVeber also has his critics. Nonetheless, as exemplars of the courage, integrity and moral convictions that are essential to the peace, prosperity and very survival of Canada as a free and democratic county, both deVeber and Mansur clearly rank among the distinguished Canadians who eminently deserve the Order of Canada.

Rory Leishman
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