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Louis LaPierre breached the public's trust when he misrepresented his academic qualifications, says Paul Gendreau. (CBC)

A member of the Order of Canada says Louis LaPierre should be removed from the Order after he admitted he lied about his academic credentials.

Paul Gendreau, who was honoured with the award in 2007, says he plans to write to the Governor General to express his concerns.

He contends the Order is designed to recognize people who have exhibited the highest standards of conduct and a professor who is caught lying about his PhD no longer deserves membership.

"It is a very, very serious breach of trust to misrepresent your academic qualifications," said Gendreau, a professor emeritus at UNB Saint John who specializes in criminal justice.

"When you are awarded the Order of Canada, you represent more than yourself, you represent your province, you represent your university, and all the people who have supported you. You also represent your background," he said.

"I think you have a responsibility that you are above board in all your professional dealings because it's more than just yourself."

However, prominent industrialist James K. Irving stepped forward in defence of LaPierre on Wednesday through a letter to the editor printed in the Irving-owned New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal and Moncton Times & Transcript.

'I firmly believe the measure of this man is more than his academic credentials.'- James K. Irving on Louis LaPierre

"While I understand the disappointment, I firmly believe the measure of this man is more than his academic credentials," stated Irving in the letter "I have known Dr. Louis for almost 25 years. He is a person who has consistently cared about New Brunswick, Acadie, and yes, the environment.

"This commitment is not defined by a university degree but by a genuine passion to work with others to move things forward," Irving said. "Making a difference in the life of a person, community or province is measured by deeds - not degrees. By this evaluation, Dr. LaPierre's contribution is worth remembering. I am proud to call him my friend."

LaPierre was the lead adviser on Irving's restoration of the Bouctouche Dune and has worked as an environmental adviser for J.D. Irving's forestry division.

The Order of Canada is Canada's highest civilian honour and is awarded by the Governor General.

Only five people have ever been removed from the Order of Canada, all of whom were convicted of crimes.

A sixth, an Ottawa doctor, resigned his appointment over professional misconduct.

'You could argue that there was malpractice involved in that he misrepresented his credentials.'- Paul Gendreau, Order of Canada recipient

Gendreau says LaPierre's situation is similar.

"You could argue that there was malpractice involved in that he misrepresented his credentials," he said.

The Governor General's office declined to discuss the case, citing privacy reasons.

The rules for the award indicate that any member of the public can complain if they feel that a member of the Order of Canada has conducted themselves in a way to undermine the credibility or integrity of the Order.

Earlier this week, two other members of the Order from New Brunswick said they don't see a need to remove LaPierre.

Rev. Eldon Hay, of Sackville, and Marc Chouinard, manager of the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, both said stripping LaPierre of the honour was unnecessary.

On Sept. 18, LaPierre resigned as the head of the Energy Institute formed to study shale gas development in New Brunswick, as well as from other positions he held. The resignations came after LaPierre admitted he had misled people about his academic credentials.

LaPierre retired from the University of Moncton in 2001. University president Raymond Th├ęberge has stated he will ask the university's senate to revoke the honour of professor emeritus that was bestowed on LaPierre.

LaPierre had purported to hold a PhD in ecology from the University of Maine. However, a report on Radio-Canada earlier in September questioned that, with the University of Maine indicating it had awarded LaPierre a master's degree, but not a doctorate.

LaPierre then stated his doctorate was awarded by Walden University in Minnesota, in association with the University of Maine. Officials at Walden confirmed LaPierre received a PhD, but it was in the field of education, not in a scientific field.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story stated Louis LaPierre resigned as professor emeritus at the University of Moncton. In fact, university president Raymond Th├ęberge has stated he will ask the university's academic senate to revoke the honourary designation of professor emeritus that was bestowed on LaPierre.
    Sep 25, 2013 9:00 AM AT