03/02/2012 11:11 EST | Updated 05/02/2012 05:12 EDT

The Order of Canada Wages Class Warfare Against Lord Black


The Toronto Star's Bob Hepburn believes "powerful friends" are intervening to prevent Conrad Black from expulsion from the Order of Canada. "Is there one rule for poor aboriginal Canadians, marginalized Sikh Canadians and working-class Irish Canadians, but another for upper-class white Anglo-Saxon criminals from a rich neighbourhood in Toronto?" he demands.

The answer is "Yes," but not in the way Hepburn intends it. Conrad Black has been targeted for expulsion precisely because, like Hepburn himself, he is guilty of being an "upper-class white Anglo-Saxon."

Since the beginning of Black's legal travails there has been a quiet campaign to remove him from the Order of Canada. In this case, the bureaucrats and Advisory Council who dispense honours at Rideau Hall seem to view the Order as a private preserve, an embodiment of their "values," some of which the wretched media mogul does not share.

The Advisory Council has never moved against the ignominious fraudster, Ben Johnson, appointed to the Order in 1986 in recognition of his having "proved himself to be the world's fastest human being." Despite having been stripped of his Olympic Gold Medal, won on steroids at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, Johnson remains a Member of the Order of Canada.

Yet the Advisory Council finds it acceptable to pursue a wealthy man who had the misfortune to be targeted by U.S. kangaroo prosecutors. What makes it more appealing for the Council to unfrock the media baron rather than a poor immigrant who did not know enough to say no to performance-enhancing drugs, or a disabled athlete who spent 15 years committing crimes? Surely if we are to make a habit of removing people from the Order of Canada, we should follow equitable criteria and avoid scapegoating persons in the media spotlight. The Order should not be part of someone's arsenal for waging class warfare.

Read more at the Dorchester Review.