Talk about a (royal) pain in the neck; the lapel pins distributed to Canadians in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, are, surprisingly, made in China.
Commissioned by the government, these pins were custom-made in honour of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne.
The 300,000 pins were originally contracted to a small Ottawa company, which later subcontracted the production to a manufacturer in China. In November, this $60,000 deal was finalized.
According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, Public Works and Government Services Canada, which commissioned the project, said the pins were only outsourced because the contract’s size meant the manufacturing would be subject to non-specific free-trade agreements.
Yet, many Canadians are shocked by this government-sanctioned decision to pinch pennies as opposed to saving face. Kyle Franz, a Canadian History PhD student and Teaching Fellow at Queen’s University, is among those outraged.
“I think it’s ridiculous, to be honest with you,” says Franz. “It seems very, very odd, particularly with the economy the way it is, to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, an inherently Canadian celebration, like this. [The government is] spending all this money on redefining the role the Crown plays in Canada, but when it comes to celebrating Canadians, we’re outsourcing this symbol of our pride to China. The irony in that process is something else.”
The outsourcing controversy stemmed from an unspecified agreement with the PWGSC in reference to Canadian content requirements. In addition, the contracted company, Ottawa-based Globe Awards and Promotions, has fewer than 15 employees, and was restricted by hastened production deadlines for an order of such volume.
“Whether or not you agree with the Crown, the government is clearly not trying to source mementos for this Canadian event by Canadians,” says Franz.
Still, celebrating ties to the monarchy routinely attracts a pool of controversy, as does the monarchy itself, for things as trivial as Kate Middleton’s childhood scar. However, in this case, the royals are not the right people to point fingers at.
“It’s disappointing that they weren’t able to be manufactured in Canada, but that was a decision by the government, and it shouldn’t reflect on the crown or Her Majesty specifically,” says Matthew Rowe, spokesman at the Monarchist League of Canada.
“From what I understand they were not able to specify the volume of the order due to trade requirements on the order, but they wanted to celebrate the best Canada has to offer. The fact is that the order was subcontracted, but it’s important to note that it originally was given to a Canadian company.”
The pins were to be given out to Canadian students, public workers, and those organizing or participating in events. These pieces of Diamond Jubilee memorabilia are part of a series of promotional items to be distributed alongside government events and programs, as originally announced in December.
But to Franz, the issue at hand is a non-partisan insult against Canadians.
“The fact that 300,000 pins for $60,000 needed to be outsourced is unthinkable and outrageous,” says Franz. “The deal could have easily gone to a number of qualified Canadian companies, who would have savoured that [publicity].”
The fate of the national distribution of the pins is currently unknown.
The Queen started her Diamond Jubilee tour in Leicester, U.K. on Thursday. With Prince Philip by her side, the always-rowdy and longest-living monarch is scheduled to visit every major U.K. town from March to July 25.
Joanna Adams writes the Morning Cable, and lots more, for Toronto Standard. Follow her on Twitter at â€ @nowstarringTO.