Shame the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal turned out to be a farce

Matthew Coutts
National Affairs Reporter
Daily Brew

Is it just me, or is it starting to seem like the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal is a bit of a farce? At least two Ottawa-area mayors appear to agree.

CBC News reports that Raye-Anne Briscoe of Admaston/Bromley and Peter Emon of Greater Madawaska Township felt they received Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medals for no other reason than they happened to be mayor, which they felt diminished the accomplishments of other recipients.

The two were among 1,500 mayors to receive medals after being nominated by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, presumably as a way to recognize their communities as a whole.

That’s not how Briscoe saw it. He told CBC:

Somebody had all these medals left over and they said 'OK, here’s a way to get rid of the rest of them, let’s just (give) them out to the mayors across the country to get rid of a problem.’

Briscoe and Emon are shining lights in the otherwise darkened saga of these medals.

There are 60,000 some Diamond Jubilee medallions sprinkled across the country as part of the celebration of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60th anniversary. Officially, the have been presented “to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.”

[ Related: Ottawa Valley mayors return Diamond Jubilee medals ]

Except they are not, not really. Except more and more it seems they have simply been tossed around at a whim, without much consideration or by a design bordering on political motivation.

Here are is latest highlights from the list of Queen’s Jubilee medal recipients: A B.C. man facing charges for shooting a person outside of his temple, nominated by an MP who did not read up on his circumstances.

That’s not the worst of it. There are anti-Native extremists, politicians convicted of corruption and a Conservative campaign manager. There are many more questionable recipients of this worthless medal.

Please don’t read that wrong. The Diamond Jubilee medals should be worth something, it’s just that they are not. The handful of highly questionable recipients has tarred the honour for recipients who deserve it.

Recipients like my grandfather.

My grandfather died last March, at the age of 96, a few months before his military unit, the Winnipeg Grenadiers, received Diamond Jubilee Medals for their service.

The Grenadiers were part of the British defence of Hong Kong in World War II. He was one of the lucky few who survived the battle, and survived the following four years in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.

My father accepted the medal on his behalf. I have no idea what my grandfather would have thought about the Diamond Jubilee Medal. But it meant something to me. Such an honour coming so soon after his death, it meant something to me.

Two months later, Justin Bieber received the same medal from Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He accepted it while wearing baggy overalls and a backwards baseball cap. He didn’t even turn his hat around.

[ Related: Stephen Harper crashes Ottawa wedding photo session ]

Since then, handfuls of questionable recipients have been named. Warren Kinsella listed some of the more notable in an article last week, including:

  • Jenni Byrne, the Conservative Party of Canada’s director of party operations.
  • REAL Women of Canada, a group that calls the “homosexual lobby” a threat to Canada
  • Mary Wagner, an anti-abortion extremist who spent time in jail
  • George Avola, a former politician convicted of corruption.

Kinsella says that no reason was given for the inclusion of any of the recipients. They were ultimately at the discretion of the Prime Minister’s Office, he notes.

When Briscoe and Emon refused their medals, they shed a light on the simmering problem. There are Canadians who deserve to be honoured. But that honour has been undone by the doubt raised by the selection process itself.

In a perfect world, only the worthy would have received a Diamond Jubilee medal. Or at least Bieber would have taken off his damn hat when he received his.