"Where else would you go when you have an ax to grind?"

Friday, January 29, 2010

More bullshit from Rideau Hall

While it may just be the latest shiny object to be dangled in front of the public to keep them distracted from Stephen Harper's prorogation shenanigans and the response from both the electorate and the opposition until the big Burning Stick Festival in Vancouver next month, I still think this is unfair, hypocritical and just plain mean-spirited.

Cancer runner Steve Fonyo stripped of Order of Canada
The Canadian Press
VANCOUVER — He finished Terry Fox's run across Canada and raised millions for cancer research, but in the two decades since then his life has been marked by run-ins with the law.
Now Rideau Hall has revoked Steve Fonyo Jr.'s membership in the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honours.
Fonyo, an amputee like Fox, was awarded the order in 1985 after raising more than $13 million. It was recognition of his 14-month, 8,000-kilometre trek on an artificial leg along the Trans-Canada Highway, completing the epic journey Fox had planned from St. John's, NL, to Victoria.
Owing to a slew of criminal convictions, however, the 44-year-old was stripped of the award on Dec. 10. A notice of the revocation appeared in the Canada Gazette on Jan. 23.
Fonyo, then of Vernon, B.C., was named The Canadian Press Newsmaker of the Year in 1985, but his stretch of inspirational stories eventually took a negative turn.
The one-time hero, who lost his leg to bone cancer at age 12, battled cocaine addiction and depression.

The story goes on to describe Fonyo's various convictions for petty drug offenses, assault, check-kiting and drunken driving. CTV ran a response from Fonyo a day later - he spoke to them by telephone from jail.

Admittedly Fonyo has not lead an exemplary life since he was awarded the Order at age 18, but he was not given the award for the life he was going to lead or for his ongoing contributions to Canada - he was given the award for finishing what Terry Fox started, running across the country on an artificial leg to raise awareness of and money for cancer research.

Compare his case to this one:

Mountie who admitted sexually assaulting teen will receive bravery

The Governor General's office says an Alberta Mountie who has admitted sexually assaulting a teenage girl will still receive a national award for bravery.

By Calgary Herald
September 4, 2008

CALGARY - The Governor General’s office says an Alberta Mountie who has admitted sexually assaulting a teenage girl will still receive a national award for bravery.
Guy Armand Raes of Airdrie was recently named a recipient of the Governor
General’s Star of Courage award.
On Wednesday, a week after the announcement, Raes was in front of a provincial court judge pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a teen he befriended through an RCMP investigation. He will be sentenced next week.
Raes, 50, helped rescue a young couple and guided other residents to safety during a massive row house fire in Airdrie, a residential community just north of Calgary, in August 2005. The court case has no bearing on Raes’s award, according to the Governor General’s office.
“He is being recognized for an act of bravery that happened in 2005,” said Marie-Paule Thorn, spokeswoman for the Governor General’s office.

Now, to be honest, I think that Mr. Raes should keep his Star of Courage award. As the GG's spokewoman says, the award is about a specific deed that he performed in 2005 and no matter what he did afterwards, that deed stands alone. The same could be said to be true for Steve Fonyo - as an 18 year old he set out to run across the country and raise money for cancer research, finishing the job Terry Fox could not. He spent 14 months of his life accomplishing this astonishing feat, raised nearly $14 million dollars for cancer research and inspired the nation. Has he lived an exemplary life since then? No. So what? His troubled life since then does not in any way diminish his accomplishment and it is for that accomplishment the Order of Canada was awarded.

So, what about this guy?

Or this guy:

Whoops, both of them are in jail over illegal deeds they committed in the area for which they were given the Order of Canada, and one of them renounced his citizenship to accept foreign honors just a decade after he was named to the order- why haven't they been stripped of their awards the way fellow fraudster Alan Eagleson was?

There are only two other people who have been stripped of the award:

Aboriginal leader David Ahenakew lost his membership in 2005 after being convicted of promoting hatred against Jews. He was later acquitted of the charge after an appeal.

*Lawyer and race-relations advocate T. Sher Singh lost his membership in 2008 after the Law Society of Upper Canada found him guilty of professional misconduct and revoked his license to practice law.

Chief Ahenakew's conduct was appalling and he was revealed to be an anti-Semite even though he was convicted of the charges against him initially, he was aquitted on appeal. T. Sher Singh was never even indicted for any crimes as far as I know, simply disbarred for professional misconduct, a far cry from being jailed for committing fraud in the course of the very thing for which one is being honored.

The GG's office is technically within its rights to strip Fonyo of his award, but if they do so, Black and Drabinsky had better be immediately stripped of theirs too, along with a number of other people who may have brought dishonor to the Order, or is accepting envelopes full of cash in hotel rooms and selling your influence an acceptable practice to the GG?

1 comment:

Shinigami Kayo said...

I sooooo sat on this story and wondered if I should say something. Or what to say. Steve use to be my neighbour in Edmonton. I met him when, coming home, I found he was using my apartment door as a backdrop to spray paint his R/C helicopter. Later when he had his artificial leg stolen out of his Red convertable I could not help but laugh.
But seriously, awards of merit, based upon something like an accomplishment have to be balanced with good civil standing in the community.
Our government has no moral compass anymore. Maybe its a thing of the past. It almost feels like even the most generous gifts are weighed against potential media reaction and re-election plans. Harper has pushed more than ever because the lack of opposition and the apparent surrender to apathy of the general voters.
Canada is not in good shape these days.