Disorder of Canada

When the Order of Canada was launched in 1967 I had the naive notion that it would honour only a select few deserving Canadians. After all, the high-minded motto is Desiderantes Meliorem Patriam, which can be translated as, “They desire a better country.” How many people could pass muster to make it over that stratospheric bar? Well, it turns out, quite a few.

Another in the semi-annual list of honorees has just been released and there are far too many names announced that don’t deserve such status. Indeed, the number of winners is beginning to be embarrassing. While the top level, Companion, is limited, the lowest level, member, seems as easy to get as going online and applying. Between the last two lists, December and June, fully 101 individuals were named as members and can wear the special stylized snowflake on anything they want from their parkas to their pyjamas.

My problem is that people seem to be named simply for doing their jobs. It’s not as if all the winners come with long explanations such as they ran a university, raised millions for the eradication of polio, and looked after 24 foster children. Often, the reason they won is explained in a single sentence and seems to describe one function.

In case there isn’t already enough hoopla about so little, there’s even a new travelling exhibit called It’s An Honour! that is visiting communities across Canada. You can follow the whereabouts of the tractor-trailer with its 1,000 sq ft mobile exhibit on Facebook and Twitter. In addition to the Order of Canada, also aboard are real honours such as the Victoria Cross.

I wish I were proud about all this, but I’m not. There are those who will say I’m just jealous because I don’t have an Order of Canada. I can tell you this, if I were offered one, I would turn it down. They’re already scraping the bottom of the barrel in the case of some members. Imagine if they asked me. Why, I’d have to assume I must be the last man alive who didn’t already have one.

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