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.

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. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Chief Ron Gignac, Belleville Police Service and the wearing of "extra medals"

As we have noted in a number of posts over the years, police officers, especially Commissioners, Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs are often guilty of breaking the rules when it comes to wearing Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals. Yes some of the people who oversee the enforcement of the law of the land seem to feel they are not subject to the same medal wearing regulations that the rest of the population is supposed to follow. 

Sadly the more gold you add to some uniforms the more likely the wearer is to come down with a serious case of the dreaded "Instant Dictator Syndrome" whereby they take the liberty of enhancing their group of medals by adding in unauthorized gongs -- be it foreign, provincial or municipal. What it all comes down to is these people wanting to look even more important  than they really are. All of these people know better, or have people on their staff who know better, but they trudge ahead through life with a few extra ribbons -- just for that added touch of colour on their uniform! The former Commissioner of the RCMP, Bob Paulson spent his entire time at the top of the RCMP wearing a totally unauthorized medal, the British Columbia Police Meritorious Service Medal, so this is not a problem suffered by municipal and provincial protective services alone. If the Commissioner of the RCMP can wear a medal without lawful authority then can't anyone do the same? 

So that brings us to the subject of this particular post, Chief Ron Gignac, Chief of Police for Belleville Ontario. By all online accounts a rather upstanding fellow, who served in the first Gulf War and with the UN deactivating mines and then training people how to undertake this rather hazardous task. He proudly wears his undress ribbons and medals; sadly, 3 of the 8 ribbons he wears (or 38% of his medals) are unauthorized -- and all three duplicate his service in the Gulf War -- so unlike all the other Canadians who served in the Gulf & Kuwait who received the Gulf and Kuwait Medal (a single medal), Chief Gignac has an additional three medals for the same service! Four for the price of one -- this is quite honestly a new record for enhancing medal group. 

Chief Ron Gignac, wearer of unauthorized medals;
four for the price of one!
So the first two rows of Chief Gignac's ribbons are totally legitimate; Gulf & Kuwait Medal, Canadian Peacekeeping Medal, UN Medal for Cyprus, UN Medal for Iraq and the Canadian Forces Decoration. These five are all approved and well recognized. 

Then we get into the magical land of unauthorized foreign medals. The first appears to be the United States South West Asia Service Medal, followed by the Saudi Arabia Medal for the Liberation of Kuwait and lastly the Kuwait  Medal for the Liberation of Kuwait. Given that Canada does now allow doubling up on medals for the same campaign, and the fact that NO person serving the Canadian Armed Forces was ever authorized to wear these last three medals (just check the Canada Gazette) how did Chief Gigac get permission? His name appears nowhere in the Canada Gazette or a new book out by DND related to Canadian Armed Forces Personnel who have been awarded foreign medals. We encourage Chief Gignac to just remove the last three ribbons, it would be the honourable and proper thing to do. Not even Chiefs of Police are permitted to violate a Federal Order-in-Council. 

Monday, February 5, 2018

Alberta: Land of Fake Medals GALORE

A number of PPCLI friends posted to Alberta have been calling for a post about all the "funny" medals they see being worn in their adopted province. Each time a Chief of Police of Fire Chief holds a press conference we are treated to a variety of unrecognizable ribbons. Just type "Alberta" and "Medal" into google and marvel at the host of poorly designed, completely unofficial medals that are being conferred upon residents of the province for all manner of government and  protective services. This is a topic briefly we examined in the blog back in May 2016.

It really is the wild west of medal invention and wearing when it comes to Alberta. The protective services seem to be spending a great deal of time fussing over buttons, ribbons and bows. Everyone seems to be getting into the act, not just the provincial government, but municipalities of every size seem to want to become like old European city states and Grand Duchies, conferring baubles on all who render even modest service. None of this would really be worthwhile commenting on if it wasn't for the fact that these popcorn medals are being worn alongside official national and provincial honours -- which is, as we point out with great regularity, a violation of Order-in-Council 1998-591. It is made all the more offensive in that the people who are most frequently doing this are police, fire and peace officers -- people who are supposed to be trained to enforce & follow the laws and regulations of the land. 

The province of Alberta established a pair of medals; "The Alberta Peace Officer Long Service Medal" and the "Alberta Solicitor General Long Service Medal." Never mind that most people who are eligible for these medals are already entitled to the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal, which is given out by the Governor General to peace officers across Canada. It seems one medal is not enough for the same sort of service -- and everyone wants to look like a "hero" or worse yet, a dictator from a less developed country. 

Alberta's Special Constable
Long Service Medal
Queen's South Africa Medal.
Aside from the totally uninspired design -- you would think putting the word ALBERTA on the front of a medal once would be sufficient, but, to assure the wearer that they know from which province their popcorn bauble emanated, the name of the province appears twice on the same side -- there is the problem that for the Alberta Peace Officer Long Service Medal, the ribbon is a direct rip-off of the 1899-1901 Queen's South Africa Medal, which was awarded to various British and Commonwealth troops who served in the Boer War. It really is just cheap and cheesy to steal the ribbon from a war medal (about 7,000 Canadians fought in the war and 267 died)

Alberta Emergency Service Medal
But it gets better because there is also the Alberta Emergency Service Medal -- another medal for which the recipient would also be eligible for the Governor General's; Fire Exemplary Service Medal or Emergency Medical Services Exemplary Service Medal or the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal. 

Sadly the festival of popcorn medals has trickled down to municipalities and also to individual police forces as well. There is the Lethbridge Regional Police Medal (given for 15 years of service), and a host of baubles from the medals crazed Calgary Police Service, where it seems everyone in uniform has at least two medals -- usually less than half are actual official national or provincial honours that you are permitted to wear (Halloween exempted). You can see the beautiful quality of the Calgary Police Long Service Medal... freshly cast in lead and then wrapped in aluminum foil here on the right.  

A Calgary Police Sergeant,
half of his medals are not authorized for wear.
Calgary Police:
Integrity...except in medal wearing? 
More mystery medals from Alberta, including one of Valour!  We all recognize the Golden Jubilee Medal and Police Exemplary Service Medal, then it appears we have the Alberta Solicitor General's Medal, which is given for having earned the Governor General's Police Exemplary Service Medal?
Then the last medal which is a mystery at the moment.

Lethbridge Regional Police Service Medal -- 
ribbon borrowed from an Austrian medal of course.  

This collage of mysterious municipal medals would not be complete with out the various medals for fires. There is the Town of Slave Lake Medal of Honour, for the 2011 Fire, and then the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Fire Medal for the 2016 Fort MacMurray Wildfire. These are first natural disasters in Canadian history to warrant the creation of a series of municipal honours it would seem.

Not to downplay the significance of the devastation that was suffered, or the exemplary character of those who fought the flames, however, it seems rather grand to be issuing medals for natural disasters. To get the Medal from the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo you had to serve 100 hours. You can read all about the "program" and the design on the municipalities website. Thankfully the website notes that the Wood Buffalo Medal is not an official national honour -- but it begs the question, why then put it on a ribbon when you know people are going to mount it alongside their other medals with the help of some overeager medal mounter who wants everyone to look like Idi Amin. 

Town of Slave Lake Medal of Honour (2011 Fire)
Municipality of Wood Buffalo Fire Medal (2016)

Saturday, February 3, 2018

We're Back!

After more than 80 emails over the past year -- half of which have come in since our new Governor General took office -- we will be updating Wearing Your Medals Wrong, over the coming weeks. Don't worry, you will soon be able to feast your eyes upon all manner of medal wearing offences being committed by a host of Police Chiefs, Veterans, and yes even Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, who has an otherworldly approach to wearing orders, decorations and medals.

Thanks to all of our readers for your patience and for sending in so many useful photos. Remember, when in doubt, if it is not included as part of Order-in-Council 1998-591, or the updated list maintained by the Governor General's Office, then you most likely shouldn't be wearing it. While it is a pretty easy rule to follow, it seems the higher the rank, the less likely some are to follow the rules. For wearing insignia there is the Guide for Wearing Orders, Decorations and Medals, which covers all the usual questions. It doesn't matter who you are, how much brass you have on your hat or gold you wear on your cuff, you are supposed to follow these rules too. 

By the end of the month we will also have an updated Vice-Regal Report Card, which we have not done in more than three years.