Can anybody be an ambassador?

Vickers’ appointment again raises the question as to the qualifications of those awarded well-paid postings

Kamloops This Week

House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers performed a heroic deed in October when he shot dead a gunman who attacked Parliament Hill after murdering an unarmed solider guarding the National War Memorial.

That Vickers was brave that day is without dispute.

His actions very likely saved lives.

For all that, Vickers has been commended.

Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Vickers will become Canada’s ambassador to Ireland, succeeding Loyola Hearn, a former Conservative MP.

Vickers has been sergeant-at-arms at Parliament since 2006, before which he spent a quarter-century working as a Mountie.

He may well become an effective ambassador to Ireland, but Vickers’ appointment again raises the question as to the qualifications of those awarded well-paid postings at home and abroad.

Surely performing a heroic deed while employed in a policing role cannot in and of itself qualify one to become Canada’s highest link to a European country?

Is there anything else, aside from Vickers’ work in stopping a killer in October, that makes him the right person to become ambassador to Ireland?

Or, as with so many other appointments in politics, is the plum gig a reward for doing a good job? And, if so, should it be this way?

We have seen too many people handed lives of luxury simply because they supported the government in power or because their celebrity can be perceived to help the government in power.

Vickers’ predecessor in Ireland, Hearn, is an example of the former. He was instrumental in working to unite the Progressive Conservatives and Canadian Alliance. Examples of the latter include journalists Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin (to Harper’s eternal regret) and Sun Peaks’ own Nancy Greene Raine.

Here’s wishing Vickers well in Dublin while we also wish for more transparency in how and why these appointments are made.