In Canada, five non-citizen individuals have been honoured with an honorary Canadian citizenship and three have been Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
Since then, Tenzin Gvatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi, the once Prime Minister-elect of Burma and His Highness, the Aga Khan, the 49th Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims have been honored with Canada's highest honor to a non citizen.
In the years Canada honoured these distinguished citizens, the act was accepted by the House of Commons unanimously except in 2001. This was the year Nelson Mandela was honoured by Parliament on his rare state visit to Canada. The act was accepted by the then five recognized political parties in the House of Commons yet failed to get an unanimous support.
This was because of one certain parliamentarian, Rob Anders, who became the sole member to vote against the act calling Mandela a "criminal and a communist." This was not only an embarrassment to his political party and his then party leader, Preston Manning but was a black eye for Canada and its reputation.
Earlier today, in a published article in iPolitics, Anders commented about the life of the late NDP Leader, Jack Layton and his illness that intimately took his life.
He remarked how: "I actually think one of the great stories that was missed by journalists was that Mr. Mulcair, with his arm twisted behind the scenes, helped to hasten Jack Layton's death." He further stated:
It was very clear to me watching the two of those gentlemen in the front benches, that Jack Layton was ill and that Mr. Mulcair was making it quite obvious that if Jack wasn't well enough to fight the campaign and fight the election that he should step aside, and that because of that, Mr. Layton put his life at risk to go into the national election, and fight it, and did obviously an amazing job considering his state of health, and that he did that partly because of the arm-twisting behind the scenes by Mulcair and then subsequently died.
The Prime Minister reacted on twitter via his Director of Communications by remarking how "Mr. Anders' comments regarding Jack Layton in no way represent the views of Prime Minister Harper or the Government."
For Rob Anders -- controversy is nothing new. He was once removed from a veteran's affairs committee for frequently falling asleep and showing disrespect for our veterans.
On Monday, it was Nova Scotia NDP MP who spoke eloquently about Rob Anders and how the Prime Minister should act instead of sending a mere Twitter statement condemning a hurtful statement from a person who holds such a distinguished public position.
He commented in part how "If I was Mr. Harper, he would be gone, out of the Conservative Party in a heartbeat. That kind of attitude, that kind of comment, that's insane. That is a disgrace to not only Mr. Mulcair but to the legacy of Mr. Layton. Think about how Olivia Chow must feel. That is just absolutely cold-hearted ......he should be removed from Parliament altogether."
Even though I believe the electors are ultimately responsible in making judgment to their local MPs, I believe the Prime Minister should act and remove him from the Conservative Party of Canada immediately. While the moderates in our political parties excite, unite and inspire us, the extremists worry and disturb us passionately as much.
Rob Anders is not just an embarrassment to his political party but to Canada and the public service as a whole. Extremism and stupidity should have no place in our Canadian public discourse.
Follow Samuel Getachew on Twitter: www.twitter.com/GetachewS