What makes the traditional New Year's announcement of fresh inductees to the Order of Canada so consistently galling is how damn many there always are -- this year, 90 in all. For a nation of such supposedly modest people, Canadians give themselves an awful lot of prizes. All this blind awarding can only wind up achieving the exact opposite of what it's supposed to. Just as printing more money doesn't make everyone richer, simply handing out lots of awards for being great won't actually make more great people -- it'll just devalue the privilege.
Six hundred Order of Canada medallists gathered at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto on June 18 to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. The medalists, or a goodly portion of them, had 60 years of achievements under their belts. There was a profusion of canes in attendance, as well as walkers and wheelchairs. But the organizers of this event seem not to have expected it.
At the 2010 Canada Day festivities on Parliament Hill, Elizabeth started her speech by addressing the 100,000-strong audience as "fellow Canadians..." She's custodian of the Canadian Crown's democratic powers and represents the "power of the people above government and political parties." Which makes her our chief watchdog -- if mostly absent and toothless.