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Chrétien is one of the “exceptional” 24

Queen Elizabeth invites the former PM to join the Order of Merit


 

Jean Chrétien’s name will forever be followed by the suffix O.M. Queen Elizabeth II has invited the former Prime Minister to join of the Order of Merit—which only maintains 24 living members and has included such distinguished persons as Florence Nightingale and Winston Churchill. The award was created by King Edward VII in 1902 to honour people “of exceptional distinction in the arts, learning, sciences and other areas such as public service.” It is a personal gift from the Queen, which means her ministers—such as Prime Minister Stephen Harper—have no say in the selection.

The Canadian Press


 
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Chrétien is one of the “exceptional” 24

  1. King George the seventh? Really?

  2. It was obviously Edward the VII since it was in 1902.

  3. Maybe Harper will force Dimitri Soudas to be the one penning the official Government of Canada press release congratulating Chretien as his punishment for the wrong quote flub last week.

  4. I must say, if Chrétien accepts the honour and uses the initials, it will look awfully bad. It may not violate the Nickle Resolution per se, but it surely does so in spirit. Given the Conrad Black affair, it's just not ethical for him to use the initials (though I suppose he can't refuse a gift of the sovereign).

    • I'm not qualified to say with confidence so I will cloak my ignorance in the guise of an innocent question: is there a difference between a title, which comes with a place in the British aristocracy (and, therefore, the House of Lords) and an Order issued by our sovereign? As the article says, it is a personal gift of the Queen to one of the subjects in one of her realms and not, as I say, a title and position of governance.

      • I think there are so very many reasons why Canadian can not be viewed as a 'realm' of the Queen that you would need a very good accountant to keep the tally. We have some shared heritage, beyond that, the link is tenuous.

        But I am very curious about how other Canadian's view ourselves, as citizens or as subjects.[polldaddy 1781016 http://answers.polldaddy.com/poll/1781016/ polldaddy]

        • okay, shortly after posting this poll, I noticed that the website had posted a very similar one. No plagiarism, sorry.

        • I disagree strongly with your statement that the links between the Queen and Canada are tenuous. At least from the legal stand point, they are very much there. The government's power largely rests with her, even if it is exercised generally on the advice of her ministers. Not to mention that she, or at least the Crown, personifies the state for all legal matters. The monarch occupies an important role in our country, whether we like it or not.

          As to whether Queen Elizabeth II can be said to have personal ties to the country, I don't know enough to form an opinion. It's tru that she hasn't been much here, what with a handful of weeks thrown in every couple of years. However, I still can't shake the feeling that, for someone who has led a life largely abroad, she still connects well with the public, and I for one don't see myself voting her away. Her heirs and successors are a different story.

        • I disagree strongly with your statement that the links between the Queen and Canada are tenuous. At least from the legal stand point, they are very much there. The government's power largely rests with her, even if it is exercised generally on the advice of her ministers. Not to mention that she, or at least the Crown, personifies the state for all legal matters. The monarch occupies an important role in our country, whether we like it or not.

          As to whether Queen Elizabeth II can be said to have personal ties to the country, I don't know enough to form an opinion. It's true that she hasn't been much here, what with a handful of weeks thrown in every couple of years. However, I still can't shake the feeling that, for someone who has led a life largely abroad, she still connects well with the public, and I for one don't see myself voting her away. Her heirs and successors are a different story.

        • I used the word "realm" specifically because I had visited her site and found it there. Canada is listed as one of her realms and, really, she's such a nice lady I would be loathe to doubt her good word.

          She will visit next year: watch the crowds and how many people fall over themselves to be in her presence. On a personal charisma level, she has us. How that translates to "King Charles" after her passing, will be the big test. There's no way one can assume the hangover affection we have for the crown through her will be passed on to the gormless Prince of Wales.

          • Her 'personal charisma' is a testament to contemporary societies fascination with celebrity. I doubt more than one is a hundred in the falling-over-themselves crowd is a true monarchist that believes Elizabeth was bequeathed to us from God, to reign over us. We hold on to dear Regina because she is a symbol of our heritage, but if she wants to pretend that she is first among all Canadians, people are going to have a problem with that.

          • "that believes Elizabeth was bequeathed to us from God,"

            No, we probably don't, but many will accept that she has a place in our constitution and that failing an alternative, she represents a benign yet useful function in our system of making laws and organizing our government.

          • "if she wants to pretend that she is first among all Canadians, people are going to have a problem with that. "

            I like having her be first among all Canadians so that some other schlub doesn't try to be first among all Canadians. The monarchy, to me, is insurance against that kind of tyranny. That's the meaning of her "divine right" — it's divine, not human, and so it's something one can serve honourably without kissing a fellow citizen's ass like a slave.

          • Personal preferences, I suppose. Personally, I prefer that we are treated more as equals. I definitely do not want to put our security against tyranny into the hands of the monarchy. I think our institutions, outside of the monarchy, offer better protection against tyranny.

            To put it more bluntly, I don't think the Queen honouring the person who has arguably been the biggest tyrant in recent Canadian history, is going to do much to protect us from tyrants.

      • Yeah, there's a big difference between a title and an honour. A title is usually hereditary and is therefore considered undemocratic by the Canadian gov't. An honour is recognition of work you have done, and is not based on breeding or family, and is therefore democratic.

        Also, titles are not awarded solely on the will of the Queen. Knighthoods (think: Salman Rushdie) and Lordships (think: Conrad Black) are awarded in part based on the advice of the ministers of the Queen, i.e., the government of the United Kingdom. Titles are therefore dispensed according to the will of the gov't of the U.K. and are political in nature. When Canadians receive these titles, it creates ties to the gov't of the U.K. and affects Canada's independence and sovereignty. The honour Chrétien has received has none of these implications or issues because it is an award based on the will of the sovereign, not on the advice of her ministers (the gov't of the U.K.) and therefore does not infringe on Canadian sovereignty, nor does it create a tie to the gov't of the U.K.

        • On heredity
          1. Canada recognizes hereditary titles, as will be affirmed by anybody who writes UE at the end of their name.
          2. Even if it weren't not all peerages are hereditary (and they can sometimes be a reward for good deeds).

          On compromise of sovereignty
          1. But there are cases of Canadians being given knighthood after the Nickle resolution. Neil Shaw, Bryant Irvine and Conrad Swan (two of them while Chretien was PM).

          In other words the Canadian honours club is a "No Conrad's Club". I take some umbrage in the fact that the law has been applied so selectively – targeting Conrad Black because of his political beliefs in a remarkably petty affair (I think he was a good PM). I would prefer to do away with all of this Nickle resolution nonsense – if they want to honour Canadians (be it with honours or titles) let the courts of Europe do so. Lets treat all equally by never intervening.

          God save the Queen, and God help Prince Charles.

  5. I don't know. Isn't this more analagous to a Nobel prize than a peerage? Though the whole suffix thing does smell a bit.

    • Good point, as there's no title. Perhaps the Nickle Resolution was all about titles. The OM is based on the Frederick the Great's ultra-ultra-prestigious Pour le mérite, which was also (IIRC) the inspiration for the Légion d'Honneur, which I think Canadians can receive. So maybe non-chivalrous orders are OK.

      • It would appear you had posted while I was still composing my thoughts. Pretty much the same line of thought, I think.

      • I think the issue addressed by the Nickle Resolution was about WHO should decide any honours bestowed upon Canadian citizens. I think Jack was right from the beginning.

        I think in regard to this specific honour, it is meant to honour Chretien's service as a Canadian to Canadians, and therefore the monarchy is out of line with the expressed wishes and practices of the Canadian people. If it is not meant to honour Chretien's service to Canada, what is it meant to be?

        • Why is the Queen of Canada out of line in honouring Chretien's service to Canada?

          As to the Nickle resolution, I think it's perfectly reasonable not to expect a Canadian to be given a British peerage. The whole point of the resolution was, as I understand it, anyway, that we are our own people–not a suburb of Britain. Our valiant performance in the First World War was credited to the Brits, let's remember, and since that sticks in the craw today, imagine if you were one of those brave soldiers. And along with not giving them credit for acts done by Canadians, it's a little much to give British peerages to Canadians. Remember what a knight actually is. Remember what a Baron's duty was. And anything higher than that is even worse because they would have had the right to sit in the House of Lords! Good Lord! The right for a Canadian to sit in the parliament of another country is patently ridiculous and makes a mockery of the very idea of a distinct Dominion of Canada.

          The Order of Merit and other awards are totally different animals. I can't even believe they are being compared as similar.

          • My desk, "thump, thump, thump", for the body of your message. The Order of Merit being a totally different animal, however, I have difficulty with.

            The Queen of Canada pays extremely little attention to that role. It is understandable, and probably welcomed by the majority of Canada's people. If she started to treat us like we truly were her 'subjects', I am sure the people would have little stomach for it. As you very eloquently put it, 'we are our own people'. The Nickel Resolution was not about peerage, it was about Canadian sovereignty. If symbols and honours matter, they should be determined by Canadians, not someone with a passing knowledge of our country. If the O.M. is meant to honour Chretien's service to Canada and not some universal humanitarianism, then the monarchy is out of line with the expressed wishes and practices of our country.

          • Yes, the job of being Queen of Canada is a part-time position, at best. And yes, by all means, phone it in. I completely agree with your response right up until you suggest that only Canadians should honour Canadians.

            Why?

            If a Canadian gets a Nobel or Pulitzer prize, do you feel he/she should give it back?

            Perhaps you can make the argument that Chretien's service was confined to Canada; was not international in scope therefore he has no business being awarded an international honour. Okay, I can buy that.

            But it is the Queen's sole prerogative who she gives it to. We don't know, her real reason might be that Chretien was the only world leader who consistently made her laugh. But choosing a Canadian's service to Canada as reason for exercising her prerogative just sounds better. Not that I believe she has stated a reason whatsoever. And part-timer or not, she IS the Queen of Canada.

          • I pretty much outlined my take in another post, but at the risk of being repetitive-

            I am not saying only Canadians should honour Canadians, far from it. I was pointing out the expressed wishes and practices of parliament over the past eighty years. That position is that awards and honours bestowed for service to Canada are rightfully determined by Canadians and not the monarchy. Additionally, Elizabeth has official standing in Canada, if she did not it would be an entirely different matter. If she wants to maintain that standing in Canada, then she should not be going against the wishes of parliament, and circumvent the process set up to determine official honours for service to Canada.

          • Okay, I understand your argument now. I don't agree that this particular honour is "official" and I think that's the only thing standing between our complete agreement.

          • And on that point I am not so sure, either. I am not convinced this particular honour is a real problem, but it seems to run against the intent of the Canadian custom.

      • If Mackenzie King and Pearson were willing to accept it — the two Canadian PMs who tended towards being republicans — then Chretien can accept it, too.

        Bet he's laughing at Conrad Black right now…

  6. Good for Chretien! He has been a long standing cabinet and prime minister; though contentious at times, he was a solid leader.

    • Mr. Pepper-on-my-plate a solid leader?

      Have our standards sunk so low with Harper's party that people look on Chretien as a good leader now?

      This is the man whose "leadership" nearly bankrupted the Liberal party, and through his lax handling of the sponsorship affair, gave us Harper's party and dysfunctional government for the past 4 years.

      • Haha – you caught me Thwim. It was the same after a few years of George Dubya, I was really thinking it would be nice to have Clinton back. Here in Canada, yeah, Harper is having the same effect.

  7. He is a great candidate for this honor. He tried to destroy the head of the FBDB in Shawinigan And was in charge of the till was 250 million tax payers dollars went missing and ended up in the pockets of his Liberal friends in Quebec.Truly a great Canadian.wtrainor

    • I think that she wanted to give a Canadian politician the O.M and after careful extrapolation, her staff found that his theft was on the low end of corruption. At least, what was uncovered. One of the qualifiers may have been that he never got nailed scoring cash in a hotel room. The Brits are funny that way. It's hard to say. Once again though, it appears that these people can't behave badly enough to fall from grace. Heck, you can still find people who praise Trudeau and catch this…..some even take Bob Rae seriously. I'm not joking !!!! Wow….life in Disneyland.

    • Oh hush

      • "Hush"?…..Are you referring to "hush money" or do you mean he DID get nailed taking cash in a hotel room? I didn't hear about that. I always thought he was more of a wire transfer to the Bahamas kinda guy. No…wait sorry….. that was Paul Martin. I stand corrected. Sometimes it's not easy keeping your insincere socialists straight around here !!

  8. I think the real reason he got the award was for making the Queen laugh out loud! some years back on CPAC I caught the coolest little moment – King Jean and the Queen were signing something I can't remember what but the Queen was behind Chretien when he went to sign some formal thing and the pen broke! He looked at the pen and said merde' or something like that (mother in french maybe) and the camera was right on the Queen and you could see her start to break up .. I know I was .. I miss the guy and Trudeau, Chretien and Harper are by far and away the best PM's we have had at least as far back as my voting experience goes although I somewhat recall the Chief as well. I am glad he got an award why not …

    • You can't remember what but you're only referring to the Patriation of the Constitution! Of something so significant, you remember mainly a silly laugh that most people didn't see or understand!

      • You really have no sense of humour do you? of course I remember what … good greif (people who rant in web forums slay me)

    • It does make you wonder. I don't care if Chretien accepts it, but you have to question the monarch getting thusly involved with a living PM – right in the middle of an inquiry focussed on another living PM, and all in the midst of a very volatile minority parliament (that survived in its present makeup only by the intervention of her representative).

      (Also, I wonder if the honour includes some personalized golf balls for his collection? The royals are hard up, and may have fall back on "small palace cheap".)

      • I was thinking more about Chretien the person. He had some skills (almost all leaders have some redeeming qualities) but he had that 'thug' side to him that some, myself included, disliked. The golf ball episode was a mild example. Sure it was kind of funny, but at the same time it had an offensive aspect to it that was not appealing.

        Some will say that all leaders have that streak; I say we should aim higher.

        • Ferguson referred to 'it' in his Bastards and Boneheads review of our PMs. In short, as PM yuou either make things happen or things happen to you. The PMs who have accomplshed anything worthwhile have had the bastard streak in them, in his hypothesis, whiel th others were just boneheads.

          • The book definitely has a catchy title, but his hypothesis somewhat oversimplifies the reality. Those are two extremes on a spectrum, and PMs can be placed on that spectrum, but I don't believe that being a Bastard is the only way to get things done. There is a big difference between being strong, convincing and inspiring or beinig ignorant, vindictive and dismissive.

            Still, don't totally disagree, and the book is on my 'Will Probably Read Someday' list.

        • Chretien's great skill was getting away with that stuff though. I mean, he strangled a protester, told western Canadians he didn't like them, said "pepper I put it on my plate", set up the sketchy Quebec advertising programs that were abused, brought the national unity debate into everything and so on – the more I think about it, the more I wonder… maybe Harper lacks a minority because he is not enough of an S. O. B.

          • Not so sure that 'getting away with that stuff' was a skill so much as a sign of the times. I'm sure that a few folks truly enjoyed/approved of those episodes, but there must have been at least a few people who would have changed their vote if there had been a credible alternative available.

            On a similar basis I'm not convinced that Harper needs to be more of an SOB; to some extent Harper is PM because the alternatives are so lacking.

  9. I am not familiar with the Order of Merit, but it appears to be the Queen's personal choice. IT does not make Chretiien a Lord and it would certainly be both improper and discourteous to refuse the honour.

    Let us hope that Harper does not make any statement about it, since really it has nothing to do with him.

  10. I can't beleive the petty, mean spirited, vindictive tone of these comments. Does it never end? He's getting to be an old man, the Queen likes and admires him. Let it go, for God's sake, let it go.

    • Exactly. It is the gift of the Queen. It isn't applied for , nominated for, lobbied for, or bought. She may give gifts to whomever she wishes.

    • If the Queen had no official standing in Canada, I could see your point, but she does have official standing in Canada. It has been expressly pointed out by parliament, that it is against the wishes of the people of Canada that she bestow such honours, from on high.

      • No, the Nickle Resolution specifies titles. This is not a title, it is an award / gift.

      • From the Canadian Encylopedia:

        Two things – the Nickle Resolution was of one House of Parliament, not Parliament per se. All subsequent renewals of the concept were done through executive order, not by either one House of Parliament or Parliament itself. Secondly, the restriction is on "any title of honour or titular distinction" that would carry with it an order of precedence connotation.

        Now, I rarely quote Wikipedia, but you will see a paragraph that says "Pearson and Mackenzie King were made members of the Order of Merit, and Pearson also held the distinction of being an officer of the Order of the British Empire. None of these honours was accompanied by more than some postnominal letters, but all three received among the highest non-titular honours available from their sovereign in cases where their own exercise of the prohibition of titular honours meant that they themselves could not receive such titular marks of distinction to honour their service in high national office."

        If this is true, then two PMs who insisted on the philosophy of the Nickle Resolution accepted this self same honour, since it is non-titular.

        • Saying that 'others have erred before me', is fairly meager grounds for excusing your own errors. Its pretty clear that the intention and practice of our elected representatives is contrary to having the Queen determine the granting of honours for service to Canada.

          For me there are two issues: a trifling one concerning Chretien's decision to accept (or not accept) the honour, and a non-trifling one concerning the process of how Canada rightfully honours service to the country. On the second issue, I don't feel the monarchy should usurp that authority.

          • As someone has already mentioned. It's no different than the Nobel Prize.She's in another country; she likes him.

          • There is a huge difference. She is not just someone 'in another country'. She officially represents Canada. In her role representing the U.K., I have absolutely no issue with it. In her role representing Canada, she has been explicitly directed not to bestow honours of her own personal choosing. If she stands for anything at all, it should be for the tradition of doing things properly.

            But I trifle.

          • She is the Queen. Do you get that?

          • I couldn't care less whether she is the queen or a drag queen. The only relevant issue, for me, is the question of WHO should be deciding on honours given for service to Canada, in the name of Canada. Our custom for the past eighty years has been that those decisions are not the monarchy's to make.

          • This not an honour for Canada; it's the Queen's PERSONAL invite to an exclusive club of 24. It's really none of your business or mine.

          • And you just aren't getting it: the Nickle Resolution, which is not law but which has been adopted by a number of successive Prime Ministers and resolved as Execuitive policy, does not include something like the Order of Merit. It is not titular and does not create an order of precedence.

            And if you read the history of the NR you will see that its motivations were other than principled and that its application has been very spotty. And to repeat the third time, in hopes it will sink in, the NR is not law but policy.

          • Where have I claimed it was a law? It has been the practice and custom in Canada for the past eighty years, and the expressed wish of parliament, that is what I have said, repeatedly. I have never claimed that O.M. is titular or creates an order of precedence.

            The difficulty I have, and have repeated, ad nauseum now, is that the monarchy holds official standing in Canada, it has been instructed not to bestow honours on Canadians for their service to Canada, that being more properly determined by actual Canadians, and that the monarchy – if it wants to retain status in Canada should refrain from doing so.

            I am NOT arguing about the how effectively the Nickle Resolution has been applied over the years nor defending the motives of everyone who ever supported the notion, nor making irrelevant distinctions between honours the Queen bestows.

            The core notion of the Nickle Resolution – that Canadians should determine honours awarded for service to Canada – is the principle I have consistently promoted.

          • "Where have I claimed it was a law?" When you said "it is against the wishes of the people of Canada" – how else is that expressed except in law? And Parliament only expresses its wishes in law.

            You haven't specifically argued the OM is titular, but my emphasis on that is because that is what the NR is about. The OM is not titular, therefore the NR does not apply. Straight logic.

            You are confused about important details. This is not the type of thing that has the kind of material effect that kicks the NR into play. As others have said, it's like getting the Nobel Prize or an Oscar. It's like the Queen getting to say "these are the 24 living persons I think are worth being pointed out." Sorry, that's wrong – it's exactly what she is saying.

          • How else but in law? You really don't know? Negotiation, convention, custom. Parliament spoke, officially in the Nickle resolution, and then by the convention that the resolution formed. If you are interested in arguing the particularities of that, you are entirely missing everything I have said. It is the principle that Canadians should determine honours for service to Canada, it should not be left up to the whim of the queen.

            As for confusion, you seem to consistently fail to grasp a rather simple principle. As I have repeated many times now, and yes I will continue to repeat them, I am NOT arguing about the particularities of applying the Nickle Resolution, but I am arguing the importance of the principle behind it.

          • Pal, you invoked the NR and it is the only means by which this whole OM thing can be judged. It was not spoken by Parliament, it was spoken by the House of Commons as a resolution, which has exactly zero application in law. It was motivated by a mean spirited twerp who was acting in retaliation for his ancestor who was not recognized.

            As for the principles, as I have pointed out and as have others, even the principles of the NR do not apply. There is a material difference between a titular distinction and the OM.

          • I see, this forum is not about discussing issues or principles, it is about finding the most arcane arguments possible about procedure and legislative trivia.

            That may explain your interest in the forum, not mine.

          • You might want to re-read your posts. You invoked the NR and used it to claim the Queen had no right to bestow this distinction on a Canadian. You went further to declare the Queen is so removed from our country that she couldn't possibly have anything to say about its inhabitants.

            We have set up exactly the elaborate honours system you think we should have. By that very system, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the OM being awarded to a Canadian, any more than it is to award a Canadian an Oscar or a Nobel Prize, since it does not offend the terms of that system.

            What is it you think you are saying otherwise?

          • I 'invoked' NR?? No, I pointed out the principle behind the practice of bestowing honours in Canada.

            Yes, the queen is removed from our country and should not be bestowing honours for service to Canada. If she wanted to present them, I have no problem with that.

            You hold that our elaborate honours system sanctifies the OM being presented to a Canadian. Where does it sanctify that? If it does, then it should be reviewed because it is poorly principled. It is not the same as an Oscar because it creates the impression that the Queen should be determining who is awarded for service to Canada. The Academy of Artists are NOT an institution of Canada. The queen IS.

          • Last try: the principle behind the NR is for titles, not gifts.

            Are you honestly saying that our Queen cannot give a token of distinction to someone she admires? As her website says: "Appointments to the Order are in the Sovereign's personal gift and ministerial advice is not required." Is she to be so handcuffed that she cannot do anything, in principle, without it being a governor in concil appointment? her royal perogative means nothing? If that is your belief, we part company, sir.

          • I am saying that if she wants to give a Canadian an honour as a humanitarian, or as an artist, or as a contributor in some form to the general welfare of the people, I have no problem with that. I am also saying that she recognize the difference between that, and recognizing someone's service to Canada, which is, in my mind, totally inappropriate and disrespectful to Canada's way of recognizing such service.

            And that too, will be my last try, failing some other comment that is purposefully incendiary.

          • I am saying that if she wants to give a Canadian an honour as a humanitarian, or as an artist, or as a contributor in some form to the general welfare of the people, I have no problem with that. I am also saying that she should recognize the difference between that, and recognizing someone's service to Canada, which is, in my mind, totally inappropriate and disrespectful to Canada's way of recognizing such service.

            And that too, will be my last try, failing some other comment that is purposefully incendiary.

          • You might want to re-read your posts. You invoked the NR and used it to claim the Queen had no right to bestow this distinction on a Canadian. You went further to declare the Queen is so removed from our country that she couldn't possibly have anything to say about its inhabitants.

            We have set up exactly the elaborate honours system you think we should have. By that very system, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the OM being awarded to a Canadian, any more than it is to award a Canadian an Oscar or a Nobel Prize, since it does not offend the terms of that system.

            What is it you htink you are saying otherwise?

  11. Well of course Harper doesn't have anything to do with it. Good thing. Ugh Harper, cringe cringe.
    Chrétien was a great PM, stopped Québec from separating. Well I know not him personally but he was PM at the time.

  12. And it would be rude of him to refuse.

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