Order of Canada too easy to get and leans to the left, says radio host

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

Radio open-line host Charles Adler has a bee in his bonnet about the Order of Canada.

Governor General David Johnston announced the latest list of 66 appointments on Dec. 30. It includes former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin at the highest rank of companion, Canada's former top soldier Gen. Rick Hillier and hockey coach Scotty Bowman as officers and three dozen more as members of the order.

It's not clear what names on the new list may have set Adler off but in a column in the Toronto Sun he accuses the the advisory board that reviews nominations of bias in its selection process.

"The balance is so tilted to the left it's giving me a kink in my back," Adler writes in Friday's Sun. "In fact, some picks are a complete slap in the face of anyone with conservative sensibilities."

The current 11-member advisory council is headed by Beverley McLachlin, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, and includes top Canadian academics, the deputy minister of Canadian Heritage and Wayne Wouters, the powerful clerk of the Privy Council and secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet secretary.

The criteria for being appointed to the order include service to particular communities, such as the arts, the law, health, Canada or greater humanity.

Adler thinks the award, established in Canada's centennial year of 1967, has been handed out like orders "at a fast-food restaurant," 6,000 in all.

"The medal is like some kind of toy in a kiddie meal box. And the bureaucratic bias turns my stomach like a burger that's been under the heat lamp for way to long."

Adler points to the awarding of the order to abortion doctor Henry Morgentaler and Elizabeth Bagshaw, who opened Canada's first birth-control clinic, as evidence of leftist bias.

"Those who choose for the Order certainly support pro-choice. Where are the pro-life activists?"

There are environmentalists such as "Saint David Suzuki" and Green party leader Elizabeth May, but not Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, " a rational environmentalist who's seen the light on what a sustainable economy really is."

Former Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney is there, and Reform party founder Preston Manning, but why not former Alberta premier Ralph Klein or Ontario's Mike Harris, Adler asks.

There are other oversights but what what really gets Adler's goat is the exclusion, so far, of Don Cherry, Canada's controversial hockey sage.

"Grapes, the icon for the Canadian people? Not just for the NHL, but as a tireless supporter of both kids' hockey and our proud military? It's disgusting," he fumes.

The order's vetting process needs some close scrutiny, he says.

"It doesn't pass my smell test. And it shouldn't pass yours either."

Should we assume that if Adler's name appears on a future list of order appointments, he won't be showing up at Rideau Hall to pick up his medal?