Diamond jubilee medal recipient.
Renfrew Mayor Bill Ringrose tells council why he's accepting the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
Steve Newman, Renfrew Mercury
Despite criticisms that the specialness of receiving a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal has been tarnished, because about 2,000 municipal heads of council have received one, Renfrew Mayor Bill Ringrose says he’s proud to accept his.
He received the medal in the mail last week before telling council members and staff directors, at the end of Monday’s council meeting.
Not only did he say he is accepting the medal, but he said he wished he had seven of them— one for each member of town council.
Other than comments made to council, he said he wouldn’t comment further on the topic that has been clouded with more controversy since some local politicians, including Renfrew County Warden Peter Emon and Admaston-Bromley Mayor Raye-Anne Briscoe, refused theirs, saying other individuals were far more deserving.
Ringrose received his congratulatory note via an email to the town website, from FCM president Karen Leibovici of Edmonton. The medals went to each head of council of FCM member municipalities, or to about 2,000 mayors or reeves, said a spokesman at the FCM office in Ottawa.
In making his comments at Monday’s meeting, Ringrose said he’d be more comfortable talking about it away from council over a Coke and cookies, “but we can’t.”
Reeve Audrey Green asked if council members could look at the medal before it was sent back, but Ringrose was about to say he wasn’t returning the medal.
Mayor Ringrose said he first thought Leibovici’s letter was a hoax, but a week later the medal arrived in the mail.
“I happen to have here a jubilee medal, which I received,” Ringrose told council.
“I’m somewhat proud of it. I guess I would have been a little prouder if in fact someone had nominated me … but that is not the process, as I understand it.
“I think we’ve all been in the wrong place at the wrong time; this might be my right place at the right time.”
The mayor said the opportunities to display the medal will be infrequent, and “the last time, I won’t be here to see it.”
To which the mayor added, “I guess I’m entitled to wear it at Remembrance Days and Canada Days on my chest. I think we have a good council here. I think we have good staff. I think we’re doing a good job.”
At the same time, he said he was frustrated by the behaviour by some heads of council in Canada.
Their questionable behaviour, suggested Ringrose, seems to be happening at many levels of government, but “not around this table (of town council).
I think people here do know what their responsibilities are, they participate, and they declare conflicts when they obviously need to, and they participate in a way that does them well.
“So, I’m saying, thank you to FCM and thank you (council) for being part of that. I’d love to be able to have seven of these to hand around the table.”
The mayor acknowledged other heads of municipal council have different perspectives.
“I have no intention to be interviewed on this,” added Ringrose.
“I think I’ve said all I’m going to say right now. And I will take it home, with some degree of pride, and it will be my memento perhaps of this council.”
Reeve Green responded by saying, “I’m very proud of the decision that you made. I don’t think there’s any mayor that holds a seat in the Province of Ontario that doesn’t do side work and volunteer work that is never accounted for … To me, I can assure you the medal came because the queen has celebrated an anniversary.
“And that’s the bottom line, and not whether it came in the mail or whether it’s based in gold. I think it has come to the right people, when it has come to the mayors, and I, for one, am very proud of what you have done tonight. Congratulations.”