Former lieutenant-governor Gilbert Finn, shown here in 2000, says Dr. Henry Morgentaler's work does not match with his own moral values and he is returning his Order of Canada in protest of the appointment of the abortion rights advocate. (CBC)

A former New Brunswick lieutenant-governor says he'll return his Order of Canada in protest of Dr. Henry Morgentaler being named to the order.

Gilbert Finn, 87, who served as the province's lieutenant-governor from 1987-94, said he doesn't hold the same values as Morgentaler, a leading abortion rights advocate in Canada.

A former rector at the University of Moncton and a leading Acadian businessman, Finn became a member of the Order of Canada in 1974 and an officer in 1979.

That distinction is tarnished by Morgentaler's appointment, Finn said.

"I've sent a note to the prime minister and to the Governor General saying that since Dr. Morgentaler is now a member of the order, I'm returning my insignia and no longer want to be part of the order," Finn told Radio-Canada in French.

Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean named Morgentaler as a member of the order on July 1 for his services to women and for leadership in the fields of humanism and civil liberties. The controversial appointment was made on the advice of the independent Order of Canada selection committee.

Protest at Rideau Hall

On Wednesday, anti-abortionists gathered in front of Rideau Hall, Jean's official residence in Ottawa, to protest Morgentaler's appointment. At the same time, members of a Newfoundland and Labrador anti-abortion group held a protest rally in front of the home of the lieutenant-governor in St. John's.

Morgentaler, 85, is a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who immigrated to Montreal after the war and opened an abortion clinic in 1969, where he performed thousands of what were then illegal abortion procedures.

A family physician, Morgentaler argued that access to abortion was a basic human right and that women should not have to risk death at the hands of an untrained professional in order to end their pregnancies.

Morgentaler's clinics were often raided by police, and one in Toronto was firebombed.

Morgentaler was arrested several times and spent months in jail as he fought his case at all court levels in Canada.

In January 1988, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada's abortion law, which required women who wanted an abortion to appeal to a three-doctor hospital abortion committee.

The Madonna House, which has soup kitchens and retreats in seven countries, has also returned the Order of Canada that was given to its deceased founder Catherine Doherty.

B.C. priest Lucien Larré has also returned his Order of Canada in protest of Morgentaler's appointment.