Parliament voted last week to revoke the honorary citizenship it had previously bestowed upon Aung San Suu Kyi the civilian leader of Myanmar, horrified that she has done nothing to stop the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya – OOPS- I guess the Prime Minister was a bit too quick off the mark in awarding the honour in the first place .
It leads me to ponder – what is the purpose of bestowing honorary citizenship anyway? I can think of no practical reason for doing so, other than the obvious opportunity it affords politicians to indulge in a feel good photo-op with a celebrity. Canada’s recognition of Suu Kyi obviously did nothing to improve the human rights situation in Myanmar, so really, what was the point?
Granting honours, especially to celebrities who are still alive and capable of disappointing us can be a tricky business. The Order of Canada has had to re-think its membership list so many times, after recipients have subsequently disgraced themselves I’m surprised they don’t keep the honour roll in pencil. So why do we do it?
Take Bill Cosby, for example. Back when he was still “America’s Dad” and a benign and beloved father figure, he collected over 60 honorary degrees from Universities across the US. His conviction for sexual assault has caused a massive recall of those honours by a number of prestigious schools.
Interestingly, Yale University is not amongst them. It has a long-standing policy not to revoke honours bestowed upon persons who subsequently disgrace themselves. Given that Yale is the alma mater of both Judge Kavanaugh and Judge Clarence Thomas ( of Anita Hill fame) this is perhaps not surprising!
Categories: law, Politics, Reflections
Tags: Aung San Suu Kyi, Bill Cosby, honorary citizenship, Honorary degrees, Judge Clarence Thomas, Judge Kavanaugh, myanmar, Order of Canada, Trudeau, Yale University
My introduction to the frontier lifestyle of the West Coast came shortly after I began my articling year in Nanaimo, when the herring fleet hit town.
Those were the glory days of the herring fishery, when high-balling crews of “Cold water Cowboys” exuberantly chased enormous schools of herring around the Straits of Georgia, loading their skiffs with fish until their gunwales were almost awash, then frantically signaling to the hovering packer boats displaying “Cash Buyer” signs, to sell their catch before they capsized. Herring roe is a delicacy in Japan, and the Japanese were flush, paying huge prices for the roe. Continue reading
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They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, and a lifetime of travel has led me to conclude that much of tourism consists of simply re-visiting the sites of those lessons. Continue reading
When I created this blog over 5 years ago, I chose the title “A Gentleman’s Relish” with a distinct nod to the English gentleman. This now endangered, if not extinct, sub-species has always had a certain cachet with me. As a busy professional I have found it intriguing to contemplate a life where money was no object, and one could fill ones days with leisure pursuits, Continue reading