Convicted fraudster Garth Drabinsky appears to be embarrassed by his removal from the Order of Canada and has launched an ego-driven bid to force his way back on to the prestigious list.
In an appeal to be reinstated to the Order, the former theatre mogul says that members are not chosen for their good behaviour, but for their contributions to the country, adding that if disgraced Olympic runner Ben Johnson is still a member, he should be as well.
"It cannot be disputed that the economic impact to Canada of my entrepreneurial and creative activities was in the billions of dollars and the cultural impact was unparalleled in the history of this country," Drabinsky wrote, according to the Canadian Press.
It is said that pride cometh before the fall. But in this case, it seems to come afterward as well.
Drabinsky was convicted in 2009 of fraud and forgery charges which led to the collapse of the theatre company Livent Inc.
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His inclusion in the Order shouldn't be predicated on whether or not he is better than Johnson.
Drabinsky's appeal comes down to whether or not it was "unlawful" for the council to strip him of the Order while he was in prison.
He said he was not able to access the resources needed to defend his inclusion in the Order because he was, at the time, in prison on fraud charges.
Which is all the argument needed to hear in favour of keeping him off the list.
The Order of Canada sells itself as recognition of significant achievements and remarkable service to the country. Any value it has comes from the council's dedication to upholding that standard.
It is not a right. A member who goes from "best of the best" to "one of the rest," is not entitled to remain a member.
Over the history of the Order, only five people have been removed, all but one prompted by criminal convictions or rulings of professional misconduct. Another was removed after making anti-Semitic comments.
- Alan Eagleson, 1998: jailed for fraud
- David Ahenakew, 2005: charges of hate speech
- Sher Singh, 2008: law licence revoked after professional misconduct ruling
- Steve Fonyo, 2010: Multiple criminal convictions
- Garth Drabinsky, 2012: fraud and forgery convictions.
In 2013, Dr. Norman Barwin resigned from the order before the council could remove him following a professional misconduct ruling.
And Conrad Black, who remains a member of the Order of Canada despite his own legal woes, has said he would resign the order before allowing anyone to strip him of it.
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Perhaps Drabinsky would be better served comparing himself to Black than Johnson, as their stories are more closely aligned. In both cases, they were elevated by their careers and brought down by the same.
Why Johnson remains a member of the Order of Canada is a valid question. The 100-metre sprinter, who won a gold medal exactly 25 years ago today, was later stripped of his medals after being caught using steroids.
But his celebrated win at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, is not why he was made a member of the Order of Canada. He was awarded the honour in 1986, two years before that.
World record holder for the indoor 60-metre run, this Ontarian has proved himself to be the world's fastest human being and has broken Canadian, Commonwealth and World Cup 100-metre records. Recipient of the Norton Crowe Award for Male Athlete of the Year for 1985, "Big Ben" was the winner of the 1986 Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete.
Twenty-five years after the highs and lows of Johnson's career may be too late to open a conversation about whether to remove him from the Order of Canada, but whether that happens or not should have no bearing on Drabinsky's own fate.
Shamed and convicted, Drabinsky should have more pressing things to consider than chasing former glory. Such as living up to the requirements of his parole order.
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