It seems that Joe Warmington, of the Sun News Network, is a little upset that Don Cherry wasn’t on this week’s list of honorees for the Order of Canada.
He lists a bunch of famous people who are in the Order, and then adds this puzzling comment:
My suggestion is to add another appointment to this list. A regular Canadian. One that sits in traffic, struggles to pay bills and has no political connections. There are more than 30 million to chose from.
One gets the impression that Mr. Warmington hasn’t really read the complete list of honorees. Among them:
- Colonel Chris Hatfield. Oh. Okay, maybe listing Canada’s latest celebrity astronaut wasn’t to my point, but it does confirm my suspicion that Mr. Warmington hasn’t really read the list, since he doesn’t name him even though he’s a newsmaker. Okay, how about:
- Richard Vincent Mercer. Oh, hang on — that’s Rick Mercer, isn’t it? Of the Mercer Report, rants and all? Mind you, this guy would probably argue that (a) he does sit in traffic, struggle to pay bills and has no political connections (or, at least, connections willing to admit their existence), and (b) he’s non-political, skewering Liberal and Conservative alike. (That he skewers Tories more is mainly because they’ve been in power the the majority of the years that RMR has been in production.) Okay, let’s try again:
- Harold John Jennings. Ah-hah — a name that’s not on the news agenda. He’s in for “his contributions to carbohydrate chemistry, notably in the development of a pediatric vaccine used internationally to prevent the most common strain of meningitis.” Okay, he’s not exactly working class, but I don’t think he’s happy about rush hour either. Let’s see who else:
- Eleanor Collins. For her achievements as a jazz vocalist. Okay, she’s an artist, but let’s be honest now: the vast majority of people who work as artists in Canada have salaries that qualify them as lower working class.
Here’s the thing: yes, if you look at the list of this year’s appointments, you’re going to find a few names you’ll recognize, but mainly in areas of your own interest or expertise. If you don’t pay attention to the music of Quebec, you won’t know René Simard; if you’re not into science fiction or radio drama, you won’t care who Guy Gavriel Kay is. But the one thing you cannot deny is that the appointees are all, in one definition or another, achievers: they have made a contribution to their community that’s appreciated by them.
As for Mr. Cherry? Actually, he has been honoured by Canada: he’s been awarded a Diamond Jubilee Medal. So have the pundit David Frum and Justin Trudeau, who aren’t part of the Order of Canada either. Nor is the bestselling author Ruth Ozeki. Or Michael Ignatieff, the NDP’s Tom Mulcair or even the late Jack Layton.
So sure, the Order of Canada may be a social measure of fame and accomplishment, but it is by no means the sole measure, nor is it really the awards carrot of the Canadian Establishment that Mr. Warmington would claim it to be.
When I read Warmington he was suggesting a real Canadian be added to the selection committee.
Actually, you could probably get a good list of Canadians of achievement who have NOT been honoured by the Order of Canada – think Margaret Somerville for one.