MINT BUREAUCRATS SHOULD BE ASHAMED
Trent Hills council, led by their mayor Hector Macmillan on Nov. 15, unanimously passed a motion requesting the Royal Canadian Mint to strike a coin to honour the Highway of Heroes, the stretch of Highway 401 that honours the passage of Canada's war dead coming home to their final resting place.
The council and Macmillan, encouraged by two Sun Media journalists, may be the first of the councils and mayors to say that a Mint that can honour whales and football teams can also honour dead Canadian soldiers.
But they won't be the last.
Macmillan is sending the motion to the more than 400 members of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. He is also sending it at my suggestion to Toronto council, which is not an AMO member. And just in case it gets lost in the shuffle of new business at City Hall, a copy has gone to Councillor Doug Holyday, who will play a major role in the new Rob Ford administration and has promised to back such a resolution with all his heart and skill.
The resolution from Trent Hills, a municipality of 12,000 that includes Campbellford, Hastings, Warkworth and townships like Seymour, says that the Highway of Heroes "plays a significant role honouring our fallen Canadian soldiers" and has become "a remarkable venue."
As Toronto Sun readers will know from the Nov. 6 column by Joe Warmington, his friend Pete Fisher of the Cobourg Star has led the way to get the coin. And he and Warmington and Macmillan will get the commemorative coin because honour and good sense will win the day. And if they don't, I would expect the Prime Minister and his government to order that coin.
As Fisher said in a letter to Macmillan after he and Warmington met him while covering the Halloween embarrassment at the Campbellford Legion, the Highway of Heroes crosses Northumberland County - where Trent Hills is located - on its way from CFB Trenton to Toronto.
The highway honour has universal support, and if it doesn't, the critics better keep their heads down. When the hearse and honour cars pass beneath the bridges with the latest victim of Afghanistan, Canadians with their flags and tears stand above. Fisher says that for the watchers, there "is a feeling of great pride, and sadness." He wrote that because of the vigils, the families of the fallen know that "they are not alone, and we, as a country, grieve with them, and support them."
It was on a family visit to the Mint last year that Fisher learned of how new coins are chosen. So he requested one for the Highway of Heroes, perhaps of mourners on an overpass with flags.
First the Mint seemed enthusiastic, then it said the design would be too difficult.
The Mint better be able to prove it is too difficult when the protest floods over them from councils and mayors and media like the Sun bulldogs. There is also an Internet link for a petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/hhyoh123/petition.html. It's a call to action for MPPs and MPs.
If we have to, we could probably find a suitable design from someone like Andy Donato, a cartoonist, artist and graphic artist who has done everything from catalogue illustrations to Sun symbols.
Because people like Donato care about those who were killed or maimed on the other side of the world.
So far, the Mint bureaucrats haven't shown that they do too.
A NICE POST SCRIPT
The Canadian Mint announced several weeks after I wrote the column on Nov. 16 that it will issue the coin after all. Congratulations to Peter Fisher, the journalist who began it all, and Trent Hills Mayor Hector Macmillan who had his council be the first body to support a nice tribute to those who have had to pass in tearful calvacade along the Highway of Heroes.
I guess Mint officials would say that it responded to public interest but isn't it too bad that it had to be whipped into this by council motions, petitions and angry columns.