Give yourself a medal

By David Broadland, May 2013

Queen's medals awarded by mysterious means; you might as well take one too.

THE OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE from the City of Victoria’s Communications Director Katie Josephson noted that three City employees had been awarded Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals. Josephson’s media advisory stated, “The distinction highlights the exemplary efforts of those who strive to make communities great places to live.” One of the Victoria staffers was apparently given the award for developing a City program as a part of his $106,000-a-year job. Josephson’s press release noted that Josephson herself had been awarded the medal.

With 60,000 of the medals distributed “to honour significant contributions and achievements by Canadians,” the process by which recipients were chosen has been controversial. The medals weren’t exactly thrown into the air for anyone to claim, at least as far as we know, but Toronto Sun columnist Warren Kinsella discovered a number of highly dubious awardings, including a politician “convicted of municipal corruption,” and a jailed “anti-abortion fanatic.”

The awards have turned out to be a kind of litmus test to help taxpayers detect hubris in tax-funded places. Not everyone failed to pass the test. As Kyle Wells reported in the Oak Bay News, Colwood Mayor Carol Hamilton was considering sending her medal back because she thought keeping it might diminish the honour intended for more significant contributions than merely being elected a mayor. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which was given 4000 medals to bestow on the worthy, sent some 1300 to mayors of Canadian communities, including Colwood’s. That’s likely how Mayor Stew Young came by his, which, by the way, he is keeping. The City of Langford would not confirm the process by which Young obtained his medal.

I asked Josephson what process was used by the City of Victoria to award the medals that she and her fellow staff members received. After all, she was the media contact person on the press release. As of press time I had received no response.

In the spirit of acknowledging “significant contributions and achievements by Canadians,” Focus has, at some expense, printed the front and back of the medal, below (If you're reading this online, you can't have a medal). If you feel you, too, are deserving, go ahead and cut out the two sides, join them together with glue, and put out a press release. You never know, it might be a slow day down at the Business Examiner.

—David Broadland