The fallout from Dr. Henry Morgentaler being awarded the Order of Canada is still with us. A Catholic priest in B.C. has returned his Order, a Catholic organization in Ontario has returned theirs, and a Catholic nun is mulling whether to give back hers.
Which brings us to the case of Dr. Margaret Somerville, the distinguished ethicist at McGill University. Let me deal with any bias straightaway. I have known Dr. Somerville for a number of yea rs, I like her and I respect her opinions (although I do not necessarily agree with all of them).
Whatever one thinks of her views, there is little argument about whether she has strong Order-worthy credentials. Somerville breaks out of the ivory tower at every opportunity to contribute to legal and ethical debates over such issues as stem-cell research, euthanasia, biotechnology. animal-research, nuclear waste-management and so on. She has written several powerful books including The Ethical Canary which I highly recommend.
One would think her an ideal candidate for the Order. And indeed she was nominated two years ago by a faculty member of the Toronto School of Theology (U. of T.) named Carol Finlay. Finlay says the Order told he it had turned Somerville down because she is too “controversial.”
Isn’t that a laugher? Especially in the light of the Morgentaler award. It’s true that Somerville has been critical of abortion and gay marriage. And it’s true that the Order has already been awarded to the Rev. Brent Hawkes, a Toronto cleric who performed Canada’s first same=sex marriage. And now it’s been awarded to Morgentaler, the most controversial candidate in the Order’s history, who championed abortion.
Surely Somerville’s exclusion is political correctness run wild. As she said herself in a speech in Vancouver last month: “Political correctness operates by shutting down non-politically correct people’s freedom of speech. Anyone who challenges the politically correct stance is automatically labelled as intolerant, a bigot or a hatemonger.” And turned down for the Order to boot. A fact that says a lot more about the Order’s agenda (pro abortion?) than it does about Somerville.
Do you agree it’s hight time Margaret Somerville was awarded the Order of Canada?
And if not, why not?