November 11, 2004

Remembrance Day 2004

Last Remembrance Day I wrote about some local Canadian Legion Veterans who were turned away from setting up their poppy sale booths by several banks and stores.
This year, the uproar is about flags.

The Canadian Government provides flags to the Legion branches, but in a small town east of Montreal the local Member of Parliament (MP) refused to personally provide the flags requested, instead referring the Veterans to a government office.
The reason? The MP is a member of the Bloc Quebecois Party, which is dedicated to Quebec separation. He didn't "feel comfortable" handing out flags.

This mentality is something we've been dealing with for forty years and it doesn't go over so well anymore. Even other members of that political party thought the MP in question went too far; the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition happily jumped in with invitations, a personal visit and of course flags; and the publicity has been considerable.

The Quebec-Canada, French-English issue aside, it bothers me that even one politician should not consider Remembrance Day above all that.

But why should he when this year the Canadian Government, in particular the Royal Canadian Mint, has chosen an extremely bizarre way of "remembering": the poppy quarter.
In itself it's a nice idea - a commemorative coin with an actual red centre. It's meant for general distribution and is touted as the world's first coloured circulation coin.
There's a nice picture of it here.
Unfortunately, the red colour seems to rub off very rapidly. It's supposed to last for three years but I doubt it'll make three months.

But the part that's bizarre about this is the initial method of distribution.
As of October 21, the coin has been exclusively available at...

Tim Horton's Doughnut Shops.

According to the Mint web site:

Tim Hortons, a distinctive Canadian enterprise is the Mintís exclusive distribution partner for this coin. Because coins are produced to meet demand, poppy coins will also be available at financial institutions in the months following the coinís unveil.

ALSO available at the banks?
How good of them.

The thing is...
even setting aside the idea of putting a doughnut shop chain on the same level of confidence as a bank...
even setting aside the idea of mixing government and commercial interests for any occasion, and especially one of such solemn commemoration...
Even beyond all that:

Tim Horton's is no longer Canadian-owned.

It began as a "distinctive Canadian enterprise" and its ads blatantly emphasize that, but it was bought out by Wendy's almost ten years ago.

Coincidentally, my son Rob works at one of our neighbourhood Tim Horton's branches and had this to say:

"How sad is it, that a country has to distribute coins through a doughnut shop!"

Sad indeed.



Previous Remembrance Day Entries:

2003:
Remembrance Day 2003

2002:
Remembrance Day 2002

2001:
Remembrance Day 2001

2000:
Poppies

1999:
Remembrance Day



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