There’s a growing sense of outrage tonight over what were supposed to be special medals minted to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s 60 years on the throne.
The Diamond Jubilee medals are supposed to be awarded to Canadians who’ve made significant contributions and achievements, and while they have been awarded to very deserving Canadians, other recipients hardly fall into that category.
Radio India manager Maninder Gill got the Queen’s medal while facing weapon charges following an RCMP investigation into a shooting at a wedding.
MP Jinny Sims gave Gill the Queen’s medal and says she didn’t know about his criminal charges, and states, “I recognize the seriousness of the crime he has been accused of committing, and apologize to those who were offended that he was presented with the medal.”
Gill says he is pleased and proud to have gotten the medal.
He says he deserves the medal for raising more than 10 million dollars for various charities.
Even before this latest controversy, the jubilee medals were being questioned.
Toronto Sun columnist Warren Kinsella called them a fiasco.
“They are a disgrace. And the manner in which they have been handed out is a bona fide scandal,” writes Kinsella.
“Out west, a conservative MP gave medals to a couple of convicted criminals. One was received by…Mary Wagner, who happened to be in jail at the time. In London, Ontario…a former municipal politician who has been convicted of municipal corruption got a medal.”
Meanwhile, there are even questions about which RCMP members have been getting the Diamond Jubilee medals.
Rob Creaser with Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada says he and his association believe a disproportionate number of the medals were presented to a wrong group.
Lower ranks have the least chance of getting the jubilee medal, according to numbers the force has not confirmed.
Constables stand a 2.4 per cent, corporals – 10.8 per cent, sergeants – 19 per cent and staff sergeants – 39 per cent.
That leaves some officers shaking their heads.
“One hundred and eight commissioned officers out of the 237 in the province, or 45 per cent of the officers getting recognition. That I think takes away from the frontline work that’s being done every day by people who are actually doing the policing,” says Creaser.
But Craig McCulloch who received his queen’s jubilee for his work with the Duke of Edinburgh awards doesn’t think the controversies – like that over Gill – tarnish the medal.
“I don’t think it diminishes her Majesty, or it diminishes any of the achievements of the other 59,999 people, including myself, who did get the medal,” says McCulloch.
And if there are any more medal controversies, they should surface by February 26, the end of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.