Order of Canada Member Launches Legal Challenge to Morgentaler Award



By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

WINDSOR, Ontario, October 14, 2008 ( - Retired Windsor police detective and Order of Canada member Frank Chauvin has launched a legal challenge against the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada that granted the award to abortionist Henry Morgentaler.

The Windsor Star reports that Mr. Chauvin bases his challenge on irregularities in the decision process regarding Morgentaler’s appointment, and that Chief Justice of Canada Beverley McLachlin, who chairs the council, should have removed herself from the process because Morgentaler is a litigant in a court case against the government of New Brunswick.

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Gerard Charette, said the advisory council made "a whole range of errors," and has made a court application that seeks to have the award cancelled.

"This is a unique council, but it is a government entity. And most government boards and tribunals are subject to being reviewed by courts when they make decisions that are incorrect," Mr. Charette said.

"This is not the way they’re supposed to choose," Mr. Chauvin said. "It’s quite evident that it’s entered into a political arena. ... I don’t think in the history of this medal there’s ever been so much controversy over someone receiving the Order of Canada."

The Canadian Family Action Coalition (CFAC) filed a formal letter of complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council in August on behalf of 42 separate organizations, representing a membership of over 1 million, charging that "the conduct of Advisory Council Chair, chief justice McLachlin, through the process of awarding Dr. Henry Morgentaler the Order of Canada demonstrates bias, political agenda and a wanton disregard for the Constitution of the Order of Canada and time honored regulations."

The CFAC asked for an investigation into judicial misconduct on the part of McLachlin when, after the July 1 announcement of the nomination of Morgentaler to the Order, rumors began to surface in the media that McLachlin had spearheaded the effort to grant the award to the abortionist.

The Canadian Judicial Council dismissed the complaint at the end of September in a letter addressed to CFAC, saying, "On the face of your letter, there is no merit, nor any facts to support, your allegation."
  Mr. Chauvin told the Windsor Star that though he does not expect the advisory council to reverse its decision because of his legal challenge he will continue to press his suit forward.

"It’s something we have to do. The whole thing is such a mess."

Mr. Chauvin also said that whether the court application succeeds or fails he will return his medal in protest, joining ten other recipients of the Order of Canada who have returned their medals to the Governor-General in protest of Morgentaler’s appointment.

"It’s going in, one way or another. I have not changed my mind one iota. I made a commitment, and it’s going to be returned. When it’s going to be returned is another thing, but it’s definitely going. I am not keeping the medal," Mr. Chauvin said.

Read related coverage:

Forty-two Organizations Appeal to Have Canadian Supreme Court Chief Justice Removed from Office over Morgentaler Affair

Canada Supreme Court Justice Denies Involvement in Order of Canada to Abortionist

Judicial Council Dismisses Complaint against Chief Justice over Morgentaler Award

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