By Shaun Francis
Merit to me means no more than whether you have earned through effort or achievement your wealth, position or status. And while this might seem straightforward in definition it is more complex to apply in reality. For example, the ‘merit’ debate is being played out in the occupy movement with the question of whether income inequality means the rich are getting richer at the expense of the poor. In other words, do the rich merit their wealth or not? Ironically many of these same people fail to ask themselves the more existential question – aren’t all North Americans and Europeans advantaged based on their citizenship versus those unlucky enough to be born into the developing world.
After all, a homeless man in Canada is a rich man in Kenya. So we often complain about social inequity within our own developed countries and whether certain people merit their advantages yet we fail to question our own luck at being born into some of the wealthiest societies the world has ever known. My point is that merit is relative and really we should always ask ourselves whether there is someone more deserving of my wealth or position if they had my head start. And no matter your wealth or position the answer may likely be yes.
Shaun Francis (UCC ’88) is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Medcan Health Management, Inc., Shaun received his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and he received a nomination from President Reagan to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland as a Canadian. While there he earned his Bachelor of Science with Honors and Merit and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Canadian Army. Shaun serves on the Board of Toronto Pearson Airport, the Fraser Institute, and the Advisory Board of the Canadian Foundation for Aids Research (CANFAR). He also serves as the Chair of the True Patriot Love Foundation, which he founded to benefit Canada’s military families. In 2009 Shaun was selected by a national panel and featured in the Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, an award which recognizes a new generation of top achievers in business, the professions, academia and public service.