Challenge to Morgentaler's Order of Canada dismissed

  • December 4, 2009
{mosimage}Order of Canada recipient Frank Chauvin has said thanks, but no thanks, to the country’s highest civilian honour.

Chauvin will be returning his Order of Canada after a federal court judge dismissed his application on Nov. 24 challenging abortion doctor Henry Morgentaler’s appointment to the order.

“The Order of Canada is nice and all, but give it to somebody who deserves it and wants it,” Chauvin told The Catholic Register from Windsor, Ont.

Chauvin said he and Morgentaler have a “different purpose in life.” The retired Windsor police detective said he is working towards helping orphaned girls through the Holy Name of Mary Food Fund, a charity he founded in Haiti 20 years ago, in stark contrast to Morgentaler’s work which “takes lives” by providing abortion services to women.

Chauvin hasn’t decided if he will appeal the decision.

“I think we got our point across. There was so much controversy with the way they proceeded that they may clean up their act,” Chauvin said.

Chauvin said he was not surprised by the judicial decision because “when you’re fighting one judge with another judge, they’re not going to go against each other.” He was referring to media reports that Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlan, who chairs the award’s advisory council, championed the campaign for Morgentaler.

Chauvin joins a long list of Catholics who have returned their Order of Canada since Morgentaler’s received his, including Montreal’s Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, former New Brunswick Lieutenant Governor Gilbert Finn and Madonna House members on behalf of their foundress Catherine de Hueck Doherty. 

A group of 106 MPs also signed a petition to oppose the award in September. 2008

Chauvin also said he has always felt uncomfortable accepting an award for his volunteer work.

“I never felt I deserved it. What I do, with my charity, I love to do. I don’t expect anything in return for it,” Chauvin said.

Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League, said the dismissed application “sets a standard which would make it very difficult for such appointments to be challenged in the future.” McGarry said the nomination is “an example of an extremely liberal agenda that doesn’t share our views on the culture of life being promoted.”

Chauvin launched an application through the Federal Court of Canada in late July, requesting a judicial review of the Order’s selection process. He questioned the secrecy of nominations and sought “sufficient disclosure” of appointees. He also called the selection process for Morgentaler’s appointment “procedurally unfair, invalid, unlawful and should be set aside,” according to the court application.

But in the judicial decision, the judge said the application had no chance of succeeding and therefore, was struck down. The ruling said the royal prerogative of granting honours is outside judicial review and that there was an alternative remedy.

According to the written judgment, Chauvin’s application was moot because it occurred five months after Morgentaler’s appointment to the order. But Chauvin said it would have been impossible to launch an application beforehand because the nomination and selection process are kept secret and only revealed on July 1.

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