Media baron Conrad Black may be stripped of his Order of Canada.
The Governor-General's office confirmed Wednesday afternoon that it is reviewing his award.
"The matter regarding Conrad Black has been brought to the attention of the Advisory Council of the Order of Canada," said Marie-Pierre Belanger in the Governor-General's office.
The 11-member council – chaired by Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin – decides whether an individual will receive or be stripped of his or her award. The council then makes a recommendation to the Governor-General.
The council meets twice a year, in the spring and the fall. Although no date has been announced, the meeting is approaching as honours are usually made public around Christmas.
Mr. Black, who was named an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1990, was convicted in the United States of fraud. He has exhausted all of his appeals and returned to a Florida prison this month to serve the remainder of his sentence. With good behaviour, he could be released in May.
He has also been in the news of late after releasing a new memoir – and suing his former business partner, David Radler, who became the prosecution's chief witness against him. Losing the Order of Canada would be a final humiliation for the 67-year-old, who gave up his Canadian citizenship in 2001 to become a life peer in Britain's House of Lords.
Despite his conviction he keeps his membership in the House of Lords as it requires an act of Parliament to be revoked.
Only four people have been stripped of their Orders of Canada. The criteria state that the council shall consider "termination of a person's appointment to the Order of Canada if the personal has been convicted of a criminal offence."
The advisory council is also reviewing Garth Drabinsky's Order of Canada. He and his Livent Inc. partner Myron Gottleib were convicted in 2009 on two counts of fraud. This week, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld their convictions but shortened their sentences.
Lawyer Edward Greenspan, who represented both Mr. Black and Mr. Drabinsky at their trials, said Wednesday the men deserve to keep their honours.
Mr. Greenspan said their memberships in the order were granted for accomplishments and contributions they made in the past – and that record still stands. Mr. Drabinsky, for example, was inducted for his contribution to Canadian culture and those contributions are unchanged, Mr. Greenspan said.
"His contribution is his contribution, and all of a sudden we're going to strip him of his contribution? I think to remove someone's Order of Canada for subsequent conduct is really to practice a form of revisionist history. It's just wrong. If he earned it, he earned it."
He added that Mr. Drabinsky has not made a decision yet whether to try to appeal his case to the Supreme Court of Canada, so it is premature for the advisory council to act before his legal matters are completed.
Mr. Greenspan said there is no legal process for fighting removal of the honours, but he will submit letters to the advisory committee outlining his arguments.
With a reports from Janet McFarland and Paul Waldie