Frank Chauvin, a retired Windsor police detective and an Order of Canada memer, has launched a legal challenge against the Advisory Council for the Order of Canada, which granted the award to abortionist Henry Morgentaler. Chauvin is basing his challenge on irregularities in the decision process regarding Morgentaler’s appointment and on the fact that the 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.
The legal action was launched in August, but not made public until early October.
Gerard Charette, Chauvin’s lawyer, said the advisory council made “a whole range of errors.” He and Chauvin have filed 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.”
The most serious charge against the chief justice is that she should have recused herself from the deliberations, because it was foreseeable that the Supreme Court of Canada would someday hear a case regarding the taxpayer funding of private abortion sites in New Brunswick ? a case in which Morgentaler has standing.
In September, the Canadian Judicial Council informed a coalition of 42 organizations opposed to the Morgentaler OC that there was no need for an investigation into the chief justice’s role in promoting the abortionist as an Order of Canada recipient. It said she was merely fulfilling her role as chair of the advisory council and did not advance his name or even vote in the matter. The Canadian Judicial Council dismissed the complaint at the end of September in a letter addressed to the Canada Family Action Coalition, which said, “On the face of your letter, there is no merit, nor any facts to support, your allegation.”
However, Phil Horgan, another lawyer for Chauvin, told the Creating a Culture of Life Conference in Toronto that Chief Justice McLachlin’s comments about her advisory council role have been inconsistent. He noted that at one point, she said she never votes on nominees (she only chairs the meetings), but later admitted she has voted to break ties, although she could not remember when that might have been. Horgan said these inconsistent answers require further investigation.
Campaign Life Coalition national president Jim Hughes told The Interim the chief justice has not cleared up every question about her role in naming Morgentaler to the Order of Canada and thus has provided further proof that the government should create an independent committee to examine how the Order of Canada is administered and how to bring transparency to the process.
Chauvin told the Windsor Star that, although 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.”
On Oct. 10, Morgentaler, along with 18 other OC members and companions, were formally presented with their medals at a ceremony at the Citadel in Quebec City.
Pro-lifers protested the ceremony, holding signs that read, “Abortion kills children.” CLC national organizer Mary Ellen Douglas said it was noteworthy that the governor-general did not specifically mention abortion when hailing the abortionist, but rather commented on his “impact on Canadian public policy” and work “to increase health care options for Canadian women.”