No house calls

Next Monday will be one of those lifetime days. I’m being honored by my alma mater, The University of Western Ontario, with an honorary degree. First word came in March with a phone call from Paul Davenport, president of Western, to tell me that the selection committee had picked me to receive an LL.D, doctor of laws (honoris causa).

I have to admit I was astounded. Honorary degrees always seem to be given to famous people or philanthropists who donate large amounts of money. I was neither of those.

I even get to deliver a speech at the 10 a.m. convocation for the faculties of graduate studies, arts and humanities, and information and media studies. My topic? The Top Ten Secrets of Life. There’s a lunch to follow and a dinner that night given by the president.

Others receiving degrees from Western next week include Flora Macdonald and Brian Mulroney, and appropriate recipients they are. I first met both of them in the early 1970s when I was press secretary to Robert Stanfield, then leader of the Progressive Conservative Party. Mulroney, 68, remains active in business and is about to join the board of Blackstone as the hedge fund gears up to go public. A friend of mine, Tom Hopkins, was in northern Afghanistan last month and ran into Flora riding a donkey on a narrow path in the mountains. At 81, she was promoting one of her many worthy causes, in this case a hydro dam.

Now, there’s a particularly deserving honorary graduand, as UWO has taken to referring to me in communications. Just don’t call me Doctor.

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