The Stroumboulopouli

The Stroumboulopouli

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Friday, October 10, 2008

A Saint to some... Satan to others...


In a ceremony earlier today in Quebec City, 20 Canadians were invested into the Order of Canada today, among them was former Hour guest, Dr. Henry Morgentaler. The Order of Canada, the highest civilian honour in Canada was created in 1967 and honours a lifetime of achievement and dedication to the community. Over 5000 people have been invested into the Order of Canada since its inception.

In a statement released yesterday by Rideau Hall:
Henry Morgentaler has had a major impact on Canadian public policy. A Holocaust survivor, he has not hesitated to put himself at risk in his determined drive to increase health care options for Canadian women. He has been a catalyst for change and important debate, influencing public policy nationwide. He has heightened awareness of women’s reproductive health issues among medical professionals and the Canadian public. He is a respected volunteer who has held leadership roles in humanist and civil liberties organizations, and is the recipient of a number of national and international awards. (source)
The announcement of Dr. Morgentaler's appointment to Canada's highest civilian honour in July created a maelstrom of protest, reigniting the decades old discussion on abortion rights. While protests sprung up all over the country after the announcement of his appointment, only a small group of protesters assembled outside the Citadel in Quebec City to denounce Morgentaler. Since the announcement, seven former member of the Order of Canada have returned their medals to Rideau Hall in protest of Morgentaler's appointment including: B.C. priest Lucien Larré, Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte and former New Brunswick lieutenant-governor Gilbert Finn. Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins released a statement yesterday that said:
The Order of Canada was created to recognise the outstanding achievements of citizens who have desired and helped to create a better country. Is a country made better when those who are most vulnerable are not allowed to continue their brief experience of the precious gift of life itself? He is being received into the Order of Canada despite the opposition of hundreds of thousands of Canadians. This action divides our country. It does not unite. (source)
Governor General Michaëlle Jean included the following in her speech at the investiture ceremony:

You do more than just show us the way.
You push us to go even further.
You tell us that it is indeed possible to make a difference, to push back the boundaries, to take the road less travelled.
That we must take chances.
That there is nothing worse than indifference or inaction.
This honour is certainly an opportunity to commend and celebrate excellence.
But it is also—and perhaps above all—a source of inspiration.
You have overcome every obstacle, you have dreamed big, you have always tried to improve yourselves, you have striven to make the impossible a reality.
And you have done so without ever losing sight of the well-being of your fellow Canadians.
Without ever losing sight of the importance of improving the lives of others and respecting human dignity, here at home and around the world.
I believe that the honour we are bestowing upon you today can serve to inspire the rest of us—especially our youth—to pursue our own dreams and to try to change the world for the better. (source)

After the ceremony, Morgentaler said he was honoured to receive this distinction and:
"Canada is one of the few places in the world where freedom of speech and choice prevail in a truly democratic fashion. I am proud to have been given this opportunity, coming from a war-torn Europe, to realize my potential and my dream" (source)
We discussed Morgentaler's appointment to the Order of Canada back when the appointment was first announced in July. If you'd like to re read that post, click here.

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