Saturday 11 December 2010

Order of Merit finally ranked in Canada -- symbolic of the renaissance of Canadian institutions

Following HM The Queen's decision to appoint former Prime Minister Jean Chretien to the Order of Merit in 2009, there was some discussion regarding the precedence of the Order within the Canadian Honours System. 

In a post on The Monarchist web-site one author (posting under the pseudonym "Beaverbrook") wrote as follows:

"Having pretty much completely abolished titular honours from the Canadian landscape (apart from the odd anomoly), it was surely the intent of the Government of Canada to ensure that the highest honour bestowed upon Canadians (save those rewarded for the most conspicuous acts of bravery) be the Order of Canada, whatever the rank. By refusing to resurrect the old knighthoods, the Order of Canada would never have to compete with the likes of the Garter, the Thistle or the Bath.

This is clear from the Governor General's website regarding the modern orders of precedence. All three ranks of the Order of Canada take precedence in the orders of wear after the Victoria Cross (V.C.) and the Cross of Valour (C.V.). 

The problem is they forgot about the non-titular orders that are in the personal gift of the Sovereign, such as the highly prestigious Companions of Honour (1917) and the even more exclusive Order of Merit (1902), both of which rank ahead of the Order of Canada (1967) if bestowed prior to June 1, 1972. Presumably these honours are so rare, no room was ever made for them in the new Canadian honours system, though the Royal Victorian Order was, probably because it conveniently ranked after the Order of Canada."

"The issue you raise has required formal consideration for some time. Unfortunately, as LB Pearson was the last Canadian to hold the OM and the powers-that-be at Rideau Hall no doubt thought it unlikely that another Canadian would be appointed, the OM was not included in the modern/revised Order of Precedence. I suspect, however, that the official position of the Government would be that, post 1972, the CC outranks the OM. 

Such a position, if it is ever formally expressed, will have been based upon wholly political and pseudo-nationalist considerations and would be as unconvincing and nonsensical as the decision to group all the grades of the Order of Canada together, ranking a lowly Member of the Order of Canada above Companions of the Order of Military Merit, the Order of Merit of the Police Forces and of the Royal Victorian Order.

It is my view that the OM, as an exclusive award in the personal gift of Her Majesty, clearly outranks the far less exclusive CC. The Government's agenda notwithstanding, I do not see how one can arrive at any other conclusion. The New Zealand Royal Honours System (which, after that of the UK, is the most finely crafted honours system in the Commonwealth) has ranked the OM correctly."

In light of this, I am delighted to announce that the Order of Merit has now received official ranking in the current Canadian Order of Precedence, where it has been correctly positioned in third place, below the Victoria Cross and the Cross of Valour.   This is highly-encouraging and Government House and the Prime Minister's Office are to be congratulated. This excellent decision is merely the latest in an impressive line of initiatives by the current Government to restore the visibility of the Canadian Crown and reassert pride in Canada's traditional institutions and symbols.  Across the Commonwealth the Canadian situation should warm the cockles of traditionalist hearts and give inspiration and indeed motivation for citizens to call on their Governments to act likewise.

SI/2010-88 December 8, 2010

Order of Merit (O.M.) Order

P.C. 2010-1499 November 26, 2010
His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, hereby directs that the Order of Merit (O.M.) follow the Cross of Valour (C.V.) in the order of precedence in the Canadian Honours System. 

(Hat tip to  Gavin Guthrie for Gazette link)


Anonymous said...

Were a Canadian to be awarded the Royal Victorian Chain, would it be worn over the CC? Or could they both be worn at once? said...

The Royal Victorian Chain is treated as a neck decoration; therefore if worn with civilian evening dress it would be worn without any other neck decoration. The Chain carries no precedence but, certainly, I would advise a person with both the Chain and the CC to wear the Chain.

Anonymous said...

Would that the Order of the Companions of Honour was also included in the revised Order of Precedence. The Order currently includes two Canadian members compared to the single Canadian member of the O.M.