Over the past decade we have noticed a rampant increase in the number of people who are wearing their orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. The cadre of people who flagrantly violate the official rules on how you are supposed to wear your medals ranges from the average veteran right up to current and former Governors General. Indeed, there is much evidence to suggest that the higher the rank of the individual the more likely they are to just wear whatever they want, however they want. We like to think of this as “Instant Dictator Syndrome” or self-aggrandizement at its most obvious.

Why do people wear their medals incorrectly? Often it is because they simply do not know any better. If you are one of these people you should consult WEARING ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS which is available from the Chancellery of Honours at Rideau Hall. This guide will help you figure out how you are supposed to wear your officially granted orders, decorations and medals.

When it comes to wearing your medals incorrectly the worst offenders tend to be former Governors General, Lieutenant Governors and retired Generals. When these people – all in authority and all surrounded by staff who know better – wear their medals wrong they are obviously suffering from the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. The attitude accompanied with this most severe condition is “the more medals I wear the more important I will look.”

This simple blog is aimed at revealing the myriad of fellow Canadians who cannot seem to wear their medals correctly.

Friday, August 2, 2019

When everybody’s somebody, nobody’s anybody! D-Day 75th and the brass hats

We made it through the various D-Day commemorations without Governor General Julie Payette showing up wearing her NASA Medals or breaking any medals wearing rules which is a relief.
Canada's two highest ranking medals wearing offenders. The Governor General Julie Payette -- known for wearing totally unauthorized Space Trip Medals from NASA, and Honorary LGen Richard Rohmer, who loves to wear every pin and bauble in his sock drawer -- even unauthorized ones. 
That being said, we had a flood of emails asking about the sash being worn by Honorary Lieutenant General Richard Rohmer, who has been featured on this blog several times before. As we have noted in the past, we have great respect for the Honorary Lieutenant General’s valorious service in the Second World War and his contributions to Canada over his long and highly accomplished lifetime. 

What we take issue is with his penchant for wearing his medals incorrectly – and wearing unauthorized medals. An officer, gentleman and an one of Her Majesty’s Counsel Most Learned in the Law (he is a lawyer and a Queen’s Counsellor) one would assume that Rohmer would know that even he has to follow the rules and regulations set out by the Government of Canada as managed by the Governor General’s Office. No sadly he does not, so during the 75thanniversary of the D-Day landings the CBC and other networks were full of images of Honorary Lieutenant General Rohmer parading around wearing a mystery sash, too many neck gongs, at least one unauthorized/ unrecognized medal and some weird looking pin with a trillium on it.

First let us address the mystery red sash. What is it? Has Rohmer been made a Grand Cross of the Legion d’Honneur or a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath or a Knight Grand Commander of the New Zealand Order of Merit– it is none of these as they are worn over the right shoulder and not the left. A search of the Canada Gazette, where all authorized foreign decorations and orders are listed when they are properly awarded to Canadians, fails to reveal that Rohmer has been awarded anything new. Could it be that as an honorary Lieutenant General, Rohmer has decided that he can wear an CAF Infantry Sash over the left shoulder given his years of service in the CAF? 

Now let us examine Rohmer’s impressive group of mounted medals.
Rohmer's mounted group of medals.
Right beside his St. John Ambulance Long Service Medal (black and white ribbon with 3 bars), there is a blue ribbon with a yellow stripe – it looks much like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal – yet Rohmer never earned the RCMP LSM, so it is not that. A search of Rohmer’s Wikipedia page reveals it could be the United States Navy Distinguished Marksman Ribbon which he earned long ago, but that award doesn’t come with a medal. So it must be the Toronto Emergency Medical Services Long Service Medal. Totally unauthorized for wear along with officially granted federal and provincial honours, this lustrous medal is struck in high quality aluminum foil and dipped in clear nail polish to give it an impressive shine. 
The Toronto EMS Long Service Medal 

Of course the wearing of this medal along with officially granted federal and provincial medals is a violation of Order-in-Council 1998-591; but hey, Rohmer is already breaking a host of rules (only two neck badges are to be worn in RCAF DEU) covered in A-AD 265 Canadian Armed Forces Dress Instructions, that everyone else is supposed to follow if they are wearing a CAF uniform, but it seems having a load of gongs and a heavy brass hat means you are immune from the rules or a watchful RSM or even our  Chief of Defence Staff.

Then there is the badge on the pocket that Rohmer is wearing above his Order of St. John breast star. There is the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation, and RCAF Ops Wings which are all legitimate and authorized, and then the mystery oval pin. 
It looks like some sort of Ontario awards with a white trillium – 75 years of safe driving of a motor vehicle? 75 years of residency in Ontario? The award for not picking trilliums in Ontario? Just what is this mystery badge? 

All this is written fully expecting a number of irate emails from readers chastising us for DARING to question such a notable and well regarded veteran. Well even the highly accomplished and high ranking are open for criticism if they break the rules the rest of the Canadian public are supposed to follow. 

This is all best left to Rohmer himself. In a January 2019 article carried in Zoomer 
Magazine. Rohmer notes “I’m the most highly decorated citizen in the country. It takes me 20 minutes to put the medals and decorations on.” Well aside from the grandness of the statement (one would never expect to hear the great Canadian exemplar of medal wearing, Major General George Pearkes, VC, PC, CC, CB, DSO, KStJ, MC, CD, CdeG, to utter such a phrase), I think you get the general idea (pardon the pun) that the General knows exactly what he is doing when he puts on a uniform – be it is RCAF, Ontario Provincial Police or Toronto EMS uniforms. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Without Further Comment; Daniel Woolf

A few readers sent us this photo of the now former President of Queen's University, Dr. Daniel Woolf, wearing what appears to be the United Nations Korea War Medal. Given that Dr. Woolf's biography states he was born in 1958, we are not quite sure how he managed to serve in the Korean War with US or Commonwealth troops. 
UN Korea War Medal
Woolf all dressed up with Arthur McDonald, a Companion of the Order of Canada, who also received the Nobel Prize;  it is a bizarre image. This photo was taken in December 2015 with Professor McDonald was presented with his Nobel Prize. 

One can only imagine what the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, who knows a thing or two about medals, thought of the Canadian university administrator parading around with a lone medal he could not have possibly earned. Not exactly an effective way of looking "important" in a auditorium filled with a few Heads of State and some of the most highly honoured/decorated people in the world. Perhaps a university scarf of jersey would have been a more effective way of announcing the crowd "look at me, I'm important too." 

You really shouldn't wear medals you didn't earn, even if you're putting them on the right hand side of your jacket. 

ViceRegal Report Card 2018

This report is a bit late, but it will certainly be of interest to our loyal readers. It is that time once again to grade the various professional medal wearers; the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors from across Canada. We won't look too deeply into the sad situation of the Governor General here. On the whole the Lieutenant Governors are doing a solid job of wearing their medals correctly. 

Off to the Magic Show?
The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta,
the Hon. Lois Mitchell.
The main offender in the provinces is Alberta's Lois Mitchell who seems to enjoy wearing all sorts of different capes! Rule number one of wearing robes/capes/mantles, you don't pin medals on them and you don't wear mayoral or Order chains over top of them -- unless you want to look really really strange and desperate to appear more important than you are. You also don't wear multiple Orders on bows. Where is a slightly knowledgeable ADC or RSM when you need one?

As we saw in a previous post Alberta really does seem to be the "wild west" of wearing medals and wearing all sorts of fake municipal and provincial medals.

The new Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Tom Molloy, is a quick study and after his installation seems to have corrected the "olympic medal" style of wearing his neck gongs. Great improvement here. 
Lieutenant Governor Molloy at his Installation.
OC worn "Olympic Style"

Lieutenant Governor Molloy wearing his SOM and insignia correctly.
Our most improved student. 
Similarly the news Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Janet Austin is doing a great job wearing her medals -- not sure what the deal is with the Presidential salute though! Of course there remain a few outliers -- the LG of Prince Edward Island doesn't seem to wear medals at all. 
The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Great at wearing medals.
But... what's with the Presidential Salute? 
This is the most solid report card we have had since we started this blog in 2010 in an effort to combat the habitual rule breakers. 

With Bob Paulson gone as Commissioner of the RCMP the wearing of unapproved/fake medals (aside from the Governor General according to media reports) has come to a end for the time being at the top of Canada's national police force. 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Julie Payette: NASA Medals before the Order of Canada?

After being reported in the National Post that Governor General Julie Payette was wearing a NASA Medal at an "International Symposium on Symbols and Honours" in late May we sought a photo. 

We have been sent several pictures, although the clearest one is shown here. This was sent to us by three different blog followers. In the image below you can see Her Excellency wearing two NASA Medals -- this photo is also on the TwitterFeed of the Global Affairs Canada Protocol Chief. 
The Governor General wearing TWO NASA medals; May 2018.
The NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA Space Flight Medal
NASA Exceptional Service Medal 
One has to feel sorry for the poor Army ADC  who had to stand looking respectful as the Governor General and Commander in Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces, spoke to a room full of medals officials and heraldry experts, wearing not her Order of Canada or Order of Military Merit insignia, but two unapproved medals. Apparently Her Excellency went on at some length about how the medals were for "heroism". So the head of the Canadian Armed Forces doesn't think the rules about wearing medals apply to her.
NASA Space Flight Medal

So what is the problem with the Governor General wearing NASA Medals? Well, the rules set out by the Government of Canada for the wearing of orders, decorations and medals, both Canadian and foreign (through Order in Council 1998-591) clearly state in section 4  “Foreign orders, decorations and medals the award of which is approved by the Government of Canada are worn after the orders, decorations and medals referred to in sections 1 and 3,....” 

A search of the Canada Gazette which lists the approval of such awards revealed Canada has never approved any NASA medals for anyone, not even Governor General Payette. Added to this fact is that like the frequently awarded US Commendation Medals, NASA Medals are not “national” awards from the USA, they are awarded by a government agency – they have a total of 16 awards for NASA alone.

What a strange situation to have the Governor General violating the rules she is supposed to uphold. It's a bit sad she thinks NASA Medals are more important than the Order of Canada, the Order of Military Merit or any other part of the Canadian honours system. Its all a bit more than just wearing the "wrong decoration" its in essence wearing an illegal pair of medals... but we wouldn't want to be accused of being fussbudgets. It is after all just the Governor General breaking a regulation set out by an Order-in-Council. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Wild West of Medals: Alberta

It is still difficult to figure out what the deal is with Alberta and the myriad of fake municipal and provincial baubles that the uniform crazed protective services here like to wear. It is as though a police tailor from the Southern USA in the 1970s (aka Boss Hogg's tailor) has been transported to Calgary to sell surplus uniforms, bizarrely coloured ribbons and all sorts of badges to  peace officers. 

Perhaps an informed reader can fill us in on just what the various ribbons are. The fellow pictured here is wearing the Order of St. John, the 2012 Jubilee Medal, the Police Exemplary service Medal, the Alberta Centennial Medal, two of the mystery Alberta Protective Services Medals (both not approved for wear), then AMAZINGLY the Northwest Canada Medal 1885, for fighting against the Riel Resistance/Rebellion (or is it the Royal Red Cross?), then what looks to be the Royal Canadian Humane Association Bravery Medal and the Buganda Order of the Happy Republic? So more than half of this guys group of medals are entirely unapproved and essentially make believe. 
Name that ribbon!

So many pretty colours...
what do they all mean?!
There is of course another uniformed fellow in this photo to the right, wearing some of the same make believe gongs. We hope pointing out this sea of funny ribbons isn't misconstrued as "bullying" especially given the topic of the photo op. 

At least the two guys in the middle of the back row are following the rules. 

UPDATE: We have received a number of comments/emails, and even the link to a guide published by the Alberta Fire Commissioner related to the wearing of the various Alberta and municipal medals. 

The Alberta Emergency Services Medal has not been approved by the Governor General/ Government of Canada, nor has it been approved for wear alongside official national honours. If it had been approved it would be on the Governor General's website list and it is not. 

There are only two Alberta related medals approved for wear -- despite the bizarre fantasy set out by the Alberta Fire Commissioners's "Guidelines." The medals approved for wear on the left side along with official national honours are:
1) the Alberta Order of Excellence;
2) the Alberta Centennial Medal.

If the medal does not appear on the list of Orders, Decorations and Medals approved by the Chancellery of Honours, via a Federal Order in Council, then you CANNOT wear it not he left hand side along with official Orders, Decorations and Medals. It doesn't matter what the Alberta Fire Commissioner writes in a guide or proclaims when it comes to the wearing of honours on the left side. For things worn on the right side of a Firefighter's uniform in Albert then of course the Fire Commissioner can make up whatever rules he or she likes, just not for the left side where official honours are worn.

Just because something which is incorrect and in violation of an Order in Council is published as a PDF online doesn't make it correct, right or legal. It is a bit bizarre to have the Alberta Fire Commissioner openly violating a Federal Order in Council; 1998-591 in this case, the Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals Directive. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

NASA Medals and Governor General Payette?

Loyal readers, rest assured we are working on a few posts that will be released over the coming week.  It has been revealed in the National Post that the Governor General, Julie Payette, wore a NASA Medal to an event at Rideau Hall in front of a group of experts on honours earlier this sumer. We understand it was the NASA Space Flight
"NASA Frequent Flier Medal"
The NASA Space Flight Medal
Medal -- which is awarded to everyone who goes to space. 

If anyone has a photo of this occurrence we would be most grateful to have an electronic copy for publication. It is indeed an unprecedented event to have a serving Governor General openly violating Order-in-Council 1998-591

Having such a high official wearing their medals incorrectly is sadly a reality we have come to accept; having the representative of the Queen and the Canadian people parading around breaking their own regulations and setting an overt bad example reaches a whole new level of disregard for the honours system and the thousands of Canadians who follow the rules. So much for setting a good example. Sadly none of this is surprising given Her Excellency's casual approach to wearing orders, decorations and medals.  

Friday, March 2, 2018

Can You Wear Medals in Space? The Governor General's Otherworldly Approach to Medals

It is probably best to start off this posting by saying outright that Governor General, Julie Payette seems to have absolutely no clue about how to wear her orders, decorations and medals. 
Rt. Hon. Julie Payette... new to wearing medals.

As this blog has noted repeatedly over the past eight years, there are inevitably some people in public life who habitually wear their medals wrong. There are of course, some who are never supposed to be seen wearing their medals incorrectly -- those citizens who hold important office being top of the list. This elite group includes such notables as the Commissioner of the RCMP (when we had one – apply now here), the Chief of the Defence Staff, other senior members of the various uniformed services, the head of the Royal Canadian Legion, and of course the Governor General. With the departure of Bob Paulson as Commissioner of the RCMP (who spent his time as Commissioner wearing an unrecognized medal and violating Order-in-Council 1998-591 with impunity) we had a brief period where it seemed this group of people were all behaving well and following the rules for the most part. Sadly this period of medal wearing bliss has come to an abrupt end with the arrival of Julie Payette in Ottawa.

Before going further it is worth noting that among the many emails we receive, not all include photos of various offenders wearing illegal/unrecognized medals. There are some who write to complain that this blog is irreverent, and “how dare we deride those who have achieved greatness in public life.” Thankfully we live in a country where you can criticize and poke fun at those who have reached high office and who have inevitably committed some gaffe or embarrassment...  and you don’t have to worry about being carted off to a gulag. Canadians have certain expectations of those who hold high office and one of those expectations is that they will follow the law of the land – that is, they will follow the rules of the play ground. In the world of orders, decorations and medals there are very specific rules about how you wear your medals – yet some people just do not care, or worse yet, think they are “more special” than the rest of us, so they get carte blanche to do whatever they want. 

President Diaz of Mexico.
Sadly, it seems the new Governor General, Julie Payette, CC, CMM, COM, CQ, CD, has at this early stage in her time as Canada’s head of state, demonstrated that she just doesn’t care about the rules or she is clueless and isn't willing to learn; what medically is known as "Early Onset Instant Dictator Syndrome," or EOIDS -- see page 544 of the DSM-5. This ailment traces its history back to President Diaz of Mexico and the late 1890s, although some European monarchs of the 19th century suffered from a milder form, Diaz had the first diagnosed case. 

The immediate past Governor General, David Johnston was a pro at wearing his medals. In his last four months in office (June to September), Johnston undertook 81 events/visits (where photos were posted) at which 13 were events where medals were worn – and he worn them correct every single time, thats a 100% success rate. 

In her first four months in office (October to January) Julie Payette undertook 40 events where photos were posted on her website. Of these medals were worn on 13 occasions, and at 10 of these (that is 77%) she managed to wear her medals incorrectly. This includes pretty much every medal wearing error possible;  doubling up on bows, neck ribbon that is too long and more suitable for the Winter Olympics, not wearing a medal bar when wearing neck insignia, wearing a miniature Order of Canada insignia, but not her full size Order of Canada at a formal dinner, and failing to wear her various medals while reviewing a CAF Guard of Honour where everyone else was wearing their medals. It appears the Governor General views medals as little more than awkward jewellery. But it is actually much worse when you compare this Governor General to her recent predecessors, Michaelle Jean and David Johnston, and how they performed during their first four months in office -- we won't comment on the "operational tempo" of the new Governor General.  

Michaelle Jean
David Johnston
Julie Payette
No. events 1st four months in office
No. events where medals worn
Occasions medals worn correctly
Medal Wearing Grade
*This survey is not scientific as we can only derive the figures from the photos posted on the Governor General’s website. 

So in the field of wearing orders, decorations and medals, Payette is absolutely dismal at wearing her gongs. Probably worse than anyone else who has ever lived in Rideau Hall – since the beginning of Canada. Not exactly an outstanding start to her time in office. 

Now loyal readers, for our gallery of Governor General Medal Wearing Horrors: 
WRONG: Neck ribbon too long, where is your medal bar and
why are you wearing a CC lapel pin as well? 

WRONG: But almost correct. Sadly, neck ribbon is too long... you're not at the Olympics. 

WRONG: You should be wearing your full size CC,
and you full miniature bar. 

WRONG: Two bows are not permitted... historians note this is the first time the
Order of Canada and Order of Military Merit have been worn on a snowsuit. 
WRONG: You should be wearing medals not a lapel pin.

WRONG: Where is your medal bar? 
WRONG: Not wearing your medal bar again. 

We had more than two dozen emails about Her Excellency on Remembrance Day wearing her RCAF Uniform – which she is entitled to wear as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. The uniform suits her well, but of the 28 emails, many from current serving members of the CAF, 23 of them noted that her hair was not in conformity with regulation. 
CORRECT: except the non-regulation haircut. 

Governor General Payette, with the greatest respect, you're NOT King Louis XIV, you can’t just do whatever you want when it comes to wearing medals and CAF uniforms. You're suppose to serve as an example for all Canadians.

The anarchist approach to wearing medals might be fun for school plays and Halloween, but it is unbecoming the Commander-in-Chief.