Three Sarnia-Lambton politicians get two Diamond Jubilee medals by mistake

stw-double diamond jubilees

Three Sarnia Lambton politicians are surprised and upset after being doubly honoured with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.

The Diamond Jubilee Medal program was set up to honour Queen Elizabeth II during the 60th year of her reign. The Governor General’s office is overseeing the distribution of 60,000 medals to Canadians who have provided outstanding service in their community or in their professional careers. Each person is to receive only one.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley, Dawn Euphemia Mayor Bill Bilton and Brooke Alvinston Mayor Don McGugan have all received two of the prestigious honours.

All three received the first medals several weeks ago, Bradley from MP Pat Davidson in November, Bilton was presented his several weeks ago, and McGugan’s medal came to the municipal office in December and was presented to him in a special ceremony at the local elementary school last week.

Then, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, one of the partner agencies involved in honouring residents, started sending out medals to municipal leaders.

Officials with FCM say the medals were given to the heads of municipalities who have been associated with the group for five years and who helped reshape the federal/municipal relationship in the last 10 years.

McGugan, Bilton and Bradley were among six local mayors who received the FCM sponsored medal  (Lambton Shores Mayor Bill Weber, Petrolia Mayor John McCharles and Oil Springs Mayor Ian Veen were all given Jubilee medals from FCM in the last two weeks.)

Bilton doesn’t know who nominated him for the first medal, presented by the Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP, and was shocked to find the second one had come to the municipal office. “I was surprised to get two – disappointed in fact,” he says. “I got two and no one needs two.”

McGugan, who was extremely excited to receive the first medal, agrees with Bilton. “I don’t need two; I was glad to get one,” says McGugan who has already sent his medal awarded by FCM back to the Governor General’s office.

Bradley, too, is perplexed by the double honour.  “I’m disappointed because it means a lot to people who receive it,” he says noting he has seen several ceremonies for the honour and people were moved to tears.

Bradley says this latest mix up is just the latest in a string of problems. London City Councilors have been embroiled in controversy over awarding the medals to each other behind closed doors.

“I had difficulty at the beginning when it was awarded to every Member of Parliament when four are Bloc Quebec members who want Canada to fail,” he says. “I would hope (awarding) it is based on extraordinary service or something different that you have done in your career.”

Bradley says the gaffes “devalue it.”

But how did this happen? Bradley had an inkling; “one came in the name of Michael and one came in the name of Mike,” he says.

Marie-Pierre Belanger, Media Relations Officer for the Governor General’s Office, says that is likely exactly what happened. Belanger says partner organizations enter their nominees into a computer program, if they spell a name incorrectly or use a short form of a formal name – such as Mike for Michael – the computer would not recognize the name as recipients and award another medal.  “If you tried to enter Mike Bradley, if there was a Mike Bradley in it, it would alert you to that…a medal has been awarded.

“Different organization entered the spelling of an individual incorrectly…It is unfortunate for the recipients and the partner organizations…if it does go through they would have no way of knowing they had (already) received a medal.”

Belanger says the Diamond Jubilee program ends at the end of February then the Chancellery of Honours of the Governor General will review the list and check for duplicates.

Belanger admits “there is no protocol per se” on the issue. “Some have taken it upon themselves” to return the medals but once the full list has been compiled, the Chancellery “will be contacting the recipients in question, if they have not returned it already.”

– Heather Wright