Memorandum by Revd J Lee Potter (HON 37)
I am writing in regard to proposals made by
your committee regarding Royal Honours.
By way of introduction, I am a Canadian from
New Brunswick with Lancashire grandparents who has been in this
country since September 1978. I was compiler of the Canadian Honours
List in the Canadian Almanac & Directory from 1973
to 1979 and have assisted those who have succeeded me. The List
includes Canadian peers (20), baronets (46) and knights (12) as
well as holders of companionages and commanderships (CMGs, CVOs,
The Order of Canada, known jocularly as the
Order of Trudeau although it was established when L B Pearson
was Prime Minister, is a yawn-inducing order likely to be mentioned
on page 52 of the Toronto Globe & Mail. In the third
volume of his memoirs, published posthumously, Pearson, a political
termite who came to power in April 1963 thanks to the gross interference
of J F Kennedy in Canadian domestic politics, revealed himself
to be a crypts-republican. The man who hauled down the historic
Canadian Red Ensign, dating from 1868, and replaced it with a
maple leaf pennant with a Peruvian design and a dying symbol (a
red maple leaf means that winter is coming), showed contempt for
the old flag under which 2 million Canadians fought and 110,000
There is no law preventing Canadians receiving
titles in Canada or elsewhere in the Commonwealth. The infamous
Nickle Resolution of 1919 was the work of a disgruntled Tory backbencher,
W F Nickle of Kingston, Ontario, who was angry that his father-in-law,
the Principal of Queen's University, had not received a knighthood.
The Resolution never went to the Senate where it would have been
defeated. It was passed when Prime Minister Sir Robert Bordon,
a major architect of the Commonwealth was at the Versailles Peace
Conference. The Resolution referred specifically to Hi Majesty's
subjects "ordinarily resident in Canada".
When R B Bennett (who was made Viscount Bennett
in 1941) was Prime Minister from 1930 to 1935, Canadians were
knighted in Canada. Since 1935, no Canadians have been knighted
in Canada but they have been knighted in Great Britain and Australia.
The abolition of knighthoods in this country
would not further equality. The U.S.A. confers no titles and is
no model of egalitarianism. There is the absurd spectacle of millionaires
seeking the Democratic nomination by claiming to be men of the
people. Knighthoods should continue but be removed from political
interference. Other Commonwealth countries, from the Bahamas to
Tuvalu, have knighthoods.
The Order of the British Empire cannot be abolished
for those Commonwealth countries who wish to retain it. The Order
looks beyond Little England.
An Order of Britain could be as boring as the
Order of Canada and an exercise in political correctness. It is
better to keep what you have and honour those who excel in their
field. But the awarding of honours to millionaire pop stars and
athletes demeans the honours system.
Some press reports have mentioned parliamentary
awards. That would be a new development. The Leader of the Opposition
could be rewarded for being an oily opportunist, Mr Kennedy for
his opposition to the war, and Mr Hoon for proficiency in war
The Crown is the fount of honour. Any attempt
to weaken or remove that by those who would like to see a British
version of the Weimar Republic must be resisted by all legal means.
Decreasing the visibility of the Crown is a prime republican tactic.
In Canada republicans are like termites whereas in Australia they
are out in the open.
Royal Honours should promote allegiance to the
Crown and not be manipulated by politicians. As a former Governor
of Tasmania (Sir Stanley Burbury) said: "Allegiance to the
Queen is a tie of freedom".