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Friday, September 25, 2015
Gretzky really is an ignorant jerk
Awarded Canada’s top honour in 2009, Gretzky has yet to pick it up
Agent says hockey legend has had trouble fitting an investiture ceremony into his schedule
When Wayne Gretzky endorsed Stephen Harper on Sept. 18, calling him an “unreal Prime Minister” who has “been wonderful to the whole country,” many commentators pointed out that the California-based hockey legend was unable to vote in Canada. Yet that may not have been the most unusual aspect of Wayne Gretzky’s relationship with his home country.
Though he’s appeared in Canada numerous times, including at a Conservative political rally last week, as well as to take part in Canadian Tire’s newly launched #WannaPlay campaign—in a video, Gretzky plays street hockey in Edmonton—the wealthy retired hockey player hasn’t picked up Canada’s top honour, six years after it was awarded to him.
On Canada Day, 2009, Rideau Hall announced that Wayne Gretzky had been appointed a companion of the Order of Canada. It is the highest rank of the nation’s system of honours (above the ranks of officer and member). The “Great One” isn’t the only giant of hockey to have been so recognized: The list of companions includes Jean Béliveau and Maurice Richard. The Governor General’s website states that Gretzky was given it “for his continued contributions to the world of hockey, notably, as one of the best players of all time, as well as for his social engagement as a philanthropist, volunteer and role model for countless young people.”
Yet, Gretzky still hasn’t collected the insignia, a six-point white enamel snowflake with a stylized maple leaf at its centre bearing the order’s motto, Desiderantes meliorem patriam (“They desire a better country”), as well as a royal crown. Produced by the Royal Canadian Mint (and stored in an undisclosed, secure vault in Ottawa until the morning of the investiture), the honour’s insignia, which can be hung from a red-and-white ribbon worn around the neck, come with some intricate protocols as to when and how it can be worn. Luckily, there is a handy, picture-laden guide.)