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Time for Chretien to say goodknight (The Calgary Sun)

The Calgary Sun
June 22, 2001
Editorial


TIME FOR CHRETIEN TO SAY GOODKNIGHT


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MAN WHO THINKS HE'S KING

The man who thinks he's king is basing his complaints on something called the "Nickle Resolution" of 1919, which he contends blocks foreign governments from bestowing honours on Canadians.

The trouble is, the resolution was never made law and, in fact, has no power whatever. It's just a convenient bit of paper the PM has used to pretend he has the power to stop foreign governments.

Even he doesn't possess such super powers.

Thanks to the work of Senator Anne Cools who just happens to be a Liberal, the truth about the impotence of the Nickle Resolution is revealed. She told the Senate in November of last year about the history of this little bit of tomfoolery and it's quite interesting. Turns out that the motion was sponsored by Conservative Member of the House of Commons, William Folger Nickle, and it asked that King George V refrain from conferring title or honour upon any subjects domiciled or ordinarily resident in Canada.

The motion never went to the Senate for approval, as all bills must, and it never received what is called "Royal Assent", the recognition of legislation by the Crown, so in reality, the motion had no force or effect. This was confirmed by Prime Minister R.B. Bennett in May, 1933, and again in January of 1934.

He said at the time: "it being the considered view of His Majesty's government in Canada that the motion with respect to honours, adopted on the 22nd of May, 1919 by a majority vote of the members of the Commons House only of the thirteenth parliament is not binding upon His Majesty or His Majesty's government in Canada or the seventeenth parliament of Canada." Sounds pretty definite to me. There's another neat wrinkle in the Nickle story as reported by his relative James Travers in an article in September of 1999. He says Nickle drafted the resolution after he failed to gain a knighthood for his father-in-law, Queen's University principal Daniel Gordon. It was spite that motivated Nickle, not some passionate protection of Canadian constitutional rights. He didn't want anyone else getting what his family did not.

To make matters worse for Chretien's misguided position, many Canadians have been granted high honours by foreign governments without a whisper from "da little guy from Shawinigan."

Cools cites, for example, the President of France granting the "Ordre Royale de la Legion d'Honneur" to Quebecer Robert Gagnon in October of '99, similar to the one the French bestowed upon Rene Levesque in 1977.

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