Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Timmy's crowd now eligible for war medals

The Harper government is going to give Tim Hortons employees war medals: "A Medal for Canada’s Frontline Donut-Vendors?"
According to CanWest news service, Canada’s Department of National Defence has clarified the rules for how it recognizes overseas service. The changes, the news service states, “will include the controversial decision to allow Tim Hortons employees at Kandahar Airfield to receive medals from the Afghan war.”
More from the above referenced Canwest report:
A major overhaul of how the Canadian Forces recognizes overseas service will include the controversial decision to allow Tim Hortons employees at Kandahar Airfield to receive medals from the Afghan war.

The changes involve clarifying the type of support eligible for the military's General Service Medal, which will now be awarded to both civilian as well as allied and Canadian military personnel deployed outside the country to provide direct support to operations in the "presence of an armed enemy."

The decision, which has raised eyebrows in the military community, echoes similar methods of recognition applied during the Second World War, according to the Department of Defence.

Medals were awarded during the Second World War to civilians working for Salvation Army, Knights of Columbus, the Canadian Legion and the YMCA.

"I'm not sure it's quite the same here," said Jack Granatstein, a senior research fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. "They were authorized by the government and they were doing a job that the government thought they could do better. I suppose you could say that's not all that dissimilar than Tim Hortons, but Tim Hortons is commercial as opposed to a service group. It doesn't make me whoop and cheer."
Why are they doing this? Here's a possibility. It's the ultimate fantasy blending for the Harper government, Tim Hortons and the military, all rolled up into one double-double extravaganza of excellent photo-opportunities. Imagine the potential...Harper (or the GG) pinning war medals on Tim's employees.

Or, it may be that there's legitimate support for the notion that working at the Tim Hortons at the Kandahar airfield is the equivalent of the work being done by CIDA members in the field, or Foreign Affairs personnel in Afghanistan. Is it? They are facing danger by virtue of being there, maybe that's enough. There's the morale boost that the presence of the shop provides. But the question lingers as to whether all of these personnel should be put on equivalent service footings.

Not sure there'll be much made of this ceremonial development, this is one of those choices that the Conservatives like to make, putting the opposition in the position of arguing against an "apple pie" type of policy, even though there may be legitimate reasons to question it.

(h/t Massachusetts)

Update: Quick afterthought question, if Burger King and KFC were there, would those employees be getting war medals too?