Feds sparing no expense on diamond jubilee party

The last time Canada celebrated a diamond jubilee, Queen Victoria was the lady in charge, the Klondike Gold Rush was kicking off, and Boston opened the first underground subway in North America.

Many things have changed in the century-plus since banners unfurled in Queen Victoria's honour. But as Queen Elizabeth II prepares to ring in her 60th year of accession to the throne, it seems that one Canadian jubilee tradition will remain intact: a big, expensive celebration.

With a budget befitting royalty, the National Post reports that Canada Heritage has set aside $7.5 million to ring in Elizabeth's glittering anniversary.

Heritage Minister James Moore released spending details after receiving a written question by NDP MP Tyrone Benskin, and here's how the dollars and cents break down.

More than $100,000 will go toward paper flags and lapel pins, with $74,180 for 682,000 paper flags to be shipped across the country and $52,650 to manufacture 300,000 lapel pins. An additional $28,883.20 will be spent on posters.

Community celebrations will grab roughly $2 million of the earmarked funds, the bulk of which will go to Ontario ($333,947) and of that sum, $800,000 will be set aside for national organizations that will not be represented during regional events.

The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal program to honour 60,000 Canadians for their service to the country is costing $3.7 million, while approximately $1.8 million will be spent on "awareness initiatives."

The Crown of Maples, a publication that provides information on the British Monarchy in Canada, will also be reissued to the tune of $94,675.50.

While there are undoubtedly those who will view this spending as wasteful, the CBC noted that many Canadians expressed great eagerness to take part in the celebrations.

The news network reports that Heritage Canada was "flooded with applications" for funding by companies, schools and organizations wanting to throw their own party in honour of the Queen.

A Nov. 26 Ministry document shows that in its first round, Canada Heritage received 232 party pitches, out of which only 180 were eligible to get on the government payroll.

Robert Finch, head of the Monarchist League of Canada, told CBC he wasn't surprised by the response.

"A lot of it has to do with the royal wedding of last year," Finch said. "But equally, people have started to really recognize that the Queen herself is worthy of the celebration."

"It's such a rare event, a diamond jubilee. In fact, there's only been one other one. That kind of piques people's interest a bit," he added.

The jubilee budget comes at a time when a number of government officials have been criticized for dipping excessively into federal and municipal purse strings.

In January, Maclean's released a cover story entitled "99 stupid things the government spent your money on," listing examples of what they deemed egregious spending.

Those examples included a Toronto city councillor who used $300-worth of taxpayer funds to have his office blessed by a Baptist pastor, and the $65,000 the City of Calgary spent in court fees to fight a street preacher over a $100 bylaw fine.

Click here for the full list. When you're finished, a jubilee celebration may not seem so bad in comparison.