Canadian opposition to Morgentaler Order of Canada grows

  • July 23, 2008

{mosimage}OTTAWA - A scientific poll commissioned by Campaign Life Coalition shows a majority of Canadians do not think abortionist Henry Morgentaler should have been appointed to the Order of Canada.

Coalition President Jim Hughes said the poll’s results challenge the pervasive “lie” that Canada has “social peace” over the issue of abortion.

“There will never be social peace as long as people believe they have the right to kill innocent human beings, whether inside the womb or outside,” said Hughes.

The KLRVU Research poll conducted between July 17-21 shows that 55.8 per cent oppose Morgentaler’s receiving the award. The question asked was: “Do you believe abortionist Henry Morgentaler deserves the Order of Canada?” The random poll contacted 157,115 households; more than 13,000 participants responded.

The results contrast those of a recent Ispos Reid poll commissioned by Canwest News that showed 65 per cent of Canadians supported Morgentaler’s appointment to Canada’s highest civilian honour.

“Cleary the waves of offended Canadians speaking out have had an impact,” said Mary Ellen Douglas, Campaign Life national organizer.

The poll has energized the coalition, which has been working with other organizations towards getting Morgentaler’s appointment revoked. It has launched an ad campaign in Catholic and Evangelical publications, urging Canadians to “join the growing wave of Canadians demanding that the award be revoked.”

The Knights of Columbus has called on its 230,000 members across Canada to contact not only Governor General Michaelle Jean and Prime Minister Stephen Harper, but also Opposition leaders, their member of Parliament and members of the advisory council “to express their revulsion at the prospect of presenting such an award to the nation’s largest and most outspoken abortionist.”

“It is imperative for us to urge our Canadian government leaders to ensure that this act of dishonour against our country and our families is revoked,” said Natale L. Gallo, president of the Canadian Association of Knights of Columbus, in a statement.

The Catholic Women’s League has also mobilized its nearly 100,00 members. CWL President Lorette Nobel wrote the Governor General July 4 that members were “speaking with one voice” in defence of unborn victims and urged her to revoke the award.

“We are not surprised, as Canadian Catholics who have seen the poisonous effects of abortion on so many lives, to witness now the negative and polarizing effect abortion will continue to have on the Order of Canada,” the Catholic Civil Rights League wrote Jean July 11. “Unless the decision is reversed, this sad legacy will be the continuing stain on your time in office, and indeed on the Order as a whole.”

4MyCanada, a non-denominational Christian youth organization, has started a Facebook group and held a day of fasting and prayer for Morgentaler’s repentance July 18.

Campaign Life is polling the more than 300 members of Parliament to find out where they stand on the Morgentaler award. It is also sponsoring an online petition that has obtained more than 15,000 names.

Hughes applauded the firm stand of Catholic bishops against the award. Twelve have issued individual statements, while the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has spoken on behalf of all 88 bishops.

“This is the first time we’ve seen so many of them come out and take a stand on this,” Hughes said. “That in itself is sending a very strong message to the Catholic population.”

He said the bishops’ actions also send a message to non-Catholics who look to the church for leadership on these issues.

“This whole thing has put abortion squarely on the front burner,” he said.

Many Order of Canada recipients continue to weigh whether they should return their Order of Canada medals or those of their deceased relatives. Hughes said he has spoken to about 40 people who are considering returning awards.

“The majority want to do it privately,” he said. “They don’t want to make a big fuss about it.”

Meanwhile, the list of those who have publicly decided to return their awards continues to grow.  A web site,, is keeping track of those who have returned medals and publishing the names of all Order of Canada recipients so Canadians can contact them.

The siblings of the late Alphonse Gerwing are the latest to announce they will return the Order of Canada medal their brother was awarded in 1989. Gerwing helped underprivileged youth go to college and university as part of his commitment to social justice.

On July 8, representatives of the Combermere, Ont.-based lay apostolate Madonna House returned the medal and citation their foundress Catherine de Hueck Doherty received in 1976.

Coquitlam B.C. priest Fr. Lucien Larre, who founded the Bosco Centres for emotionally disturbed and addicted adolescents, also said he would return his award, as did Frank Chauvin of Windsor, Ont. He planned to return his Order of Canada for the work the retired police detective’s community service, including the founding of an orphanage for abandoned girls in Haiti. Others saying they would return their medals are businessman and philanthropist Thomas S. Caldwell, former New Brunswick lieutenant-governor Gilbert Finn, and Leo Goski of Regina, who said he was returning the Order of Canada his late uncle, Msgr. A.J. Goski.

Sr. Margaret Smith of the Sisters of St. Joseph in North Bay, Ont., however, has decided not to return her medal, even though she said in a statement Morgentaler’s award “deeply shocked and saddened me.”

“I believe that abortion is a great human tragedy for both individual women and all of us as a society,” she said. “At the very least the destruction of human life is never something to be celebrated, as Dr. Morgentaler’s award seems to be doing."

Smith said she faced a dilemma on whether to return the medal or not, especially if keeping it might send a message of condoning Morgentaler’s appointment. After reflection and prayer she made the “difficult” decision to keep the “cherished” award.

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