Roundup: The fount of Canadian honours

A particular thread that I forgot to talk about last week was about the new GG, and one of the important things that the office does, which is to be the conduit by which the country’s honours system works. It’s a pretty important function of the office which has been encroached upon my MPs and in particular the Prime Minister in recent years, and yes, that is a problem.

The Queen is the fount of honours in Canada, but politicians have been trying to get in on the game. Stephen Harper created a “teaching award,” and Trudeau has been talking about creating some kind of medal on his own as well, while there have been partisan spats about the Thérèse Casgraine award, or the John Diefenbaker award, and whichever party in power “forgetting” to award it, and on it goes. But part of leaving those kinds of decisions up to Rideau Hall is that it keeps the awards from taking on a partisan taint. With the Prime Minister’s Awards for Teaching Excellence, there was a lot of difficulty getting nominees under Harper because many people didn’t want to be associated with him, which is a fair point – the award should be politics-neutral, but associating it with the head of government as opposed to the Queen means not only that there’s a whiff of partisanship, but that the PM would use the awards as a bit of reflected glory. That’s generally something we try to avoid in our system, which is also why we ensure that it’s not the prime minister’s face on postage stamps or first in line in our embassies, but rather the Queen. It’s why the civil service swears their oaths to the Crown and not the government of the day as well – because we keep them above the partisanship of the day, and it keeps them from developing cults of personality (as much as is possible, but the age of celebrity politics is certainly challenging this notion). Suffice to say, we should be aware that the duties of honours rests with the Crown and with the GG for a reason, and we should frown on more attempts by politicians to horn in on them.

Good reads:

  • Premiers are meeting in Edmonton to talk NAFTA, internal trade, and marijuana. Philippe Couillard still wants to talk about the constitution, though.
  • Here are five things to watch for as the Americans lay out their NAFTA renegotiation priorities this week. Chrystia Freeland is “cautiously optimistic.”
  • The government’s extended EI Benefits programme for hard-hit areas blew past budget expectations, and each opposition party has a theory as to why.
  • The former director of CSIS reacts to the allegations of racist, sexist and homophobic harassment in the Service.
  • Former MMIW inquiry commissioner Marilyn Poitras explains why she resigned.
  • Despite not being fully staffed, the military’s sexual misconduct response centre is finally going to be going 24/7.
  • Farmers in Italy are demonizing Canadian wheat imports and demanding protectionist measures like country of origin labelling.
  • Neither Thomas Mulcair nor any of the NDP leadership candidates will be at Stampede this year. Scandal!

Odds and ends:

Halifax got a first look at the Arctic off-shore patrol ships.

Justin Trudeau put out a summer mix over Spotify, if you’re curious.


3 thoughts on “Roundup: The fount of Canadian honours

  1. Good observations about the importance of keeping the public service neutral, keeping the current PMs off stamps, and avoiding “cults of personality,” Dale. But that’s precisely why I found it surprising you couldn’t seem to understand that having Global Affairs pay for cardboard cutouts of Justin Trudeau was offensive. At the time (09 May 2017), your Routine Proceedings post was headlined, “Rage over $2000 worth of cardboard.” That seemed to be a deliberate misunderstanding of what the underlying concern was and is. Glad to see you are onboard now!

  2. The Richard Fadden reaction is typical of his level in government. If wrongdoing happens, they will claim no knowledge, unless there is a paper or email link. Usually nowadays all is done in phone conversations and one is always careful not to say anything that might alarm the head. Senior managers because of bonuses crack down on subordinates it is routine, Abuse and harassment is also routine, you only hear about it when it hits the papers. I never found either CSIS or CBSA terribly open minded about anyone who it not white, anglo and christian. What is the solution, no idea, but asking a person like Fadden is not going to get you any answers.

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