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 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. I 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, September 25, 2015

RCMP Musical Medals or Mix and Match with Commissioner Paulson

It would appear that the poor Commissioner of our national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, has great difficulty figuring out what medals he should be wearing… indeed, it seems as though he has several sets of medals.

Early on in Commissioner Paulson's term he had a habit of "enhancing" his group of medals by wearing both his Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (COM) insignia along with his Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (OOM) insignia. Now this would be totally acceptable in one instance alone; when he was promoted from OOM to COM. 

Doubling up on his COM and OOM,
 and this was months AFTER Paulson was made a COM.

Here is Paulson committing the same medal wearing offence at Rideau Hall.

Thankfully, after about 8 months of committing this medal wearing offence, someone must have told the good Commissioner that he shouldn't be dressing up his group with multiple versions of the same Order. So all was right in the medal wearing world at RCMP HQ and their chief brass hat.
The Commissioner correctly turned out at last.
Despite this progress, as shown in the photo immediately above where the Commissioner is wearing his medals correctly, his group has very recently grown a new and unofficial medal. Yes it appears that the Commissioner has succumbed to the dreaded "Instant Dictator Syndrome;" the first Commissioner of the RCMP to publicly suffer this illness. The RCMP Corps Sergeant Major also seems to be suffering the same illness as he too is wearing the British Columbia Police Meritorious Service Medal.

Commissioner Paulson's new medal from a BC Government website.
 Unauthorized for wear according to the rules the rest of us Canadians are required to follow. 

Awarded by the Government of British Columbia and presented by the Lieutenant Governor, this award is not officially recognized by the Government of Canada, nor is it included in the Canadian Order of Precedence for wearing Orders, Decorations and Medals. So it is unofficial and not authorized for wear along with officially granted orders, decorations or medals. This situation is part of a broader trend that seems to be gripping many uniform wearing services across Canada. Police forces especially have an ever increasing propensity to wear unofficial provincial and even municipal awards that are totally unrecognized and often unrecognizable to even the most seasoned medal pooh-bah.

The Commissioner wearing an unofficial
medal at the end of his group. 
In short "Dear Commissioner, and friends, if it doesn't appear on this list, a list issued under the authority of your bosses (the Governor General and the Prime Minister), you are not allowed to wear it. Neither you nor the RCMP has the authority to authorize you to wear a medal. You had really better get your medals re-mounted PDQ."

It is more than a bit embarrassing to have the head of our national police force flagrantly violating the rules that everyone else is required to follow.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Correcting Mistakes: Fire-Captain Paul Hurst

We have heard from Chief Hurst and he indicates that he was unaware of the error in medal mounting and is having the situation rectified. It would appear that the medal mounting error was an honest mistake, which although unfortunate is by far the best reason for such a situation. Thankfully this was not a case of Instant Dictator Syndrome. We are delighted to learn that Chief Hurst is having his medals remounted correctly and apologize for the general tone of the previous post which has now been removed.

Fire-Captain Paul Hurst, MB, of Victoria BC. 

What is the "Mystery Medal" at the end of the group?

For the record Chief Hurst's group should be worn; (1) Medal of Bravery, (2) Diamond Jubilee Medal, (3) Fire Exemplary Service Medal, (4) BC Firefighter Medal for Bravery, (5) BC Fire Service Long Service Medal. The RCHA Bravery Medal and “Mystery Medal” should not be mounted or worn with the rest of the group.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Veterans Dressing Up their Medal Groups; Sean Bruyea and Ernie Hughes

Thankfully most veterans follow the rules of how to wear their hard earned medals, however there seems to be an increased propensity for some veterans of the First Gulf War to embellish their group with unauthorized medals from foreign lands. Here we have Sean Bruyea wearing his Gulf and Kuwait War Medal and Canadian Forces Decoration along with two totally unauthorized medals for service in the First Gulf War; the Kuwait Medal for service in the war and the Saudi Arabian Medal for serving in the war. So this fellow is wearing three medals for the same conflict. Can you imagine what those who served in the Second World War would have looked like if they dressed up their groups with medals from the various countries they helped to liberate; France, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and more than a dozen others. 
Sean Bruyea -- doubled his group with unauthorized medals. 
Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and a number of other gulf nations sought to recognize Canadians who served in the conflict and Canadians were permitted to accept these medals as "mementoes" -- with the explicit understanding that they would never be worn Alas, Instant Dictator Syndrome seems to effect even those fighting for veterans' rights. So much for following the rules when it comes to foreign honours.

Next we have a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Mr. Ernie Hughes. Before we go any further it is worth noting that the Royal Canadian Legion has been at the forefront of ensuring that its members do not wear phoney medals, and the Legion has long been and example to other organizations in that it only allows internal awards (ie. the various Royal Canadian Legion Medals and Awards) to be worn on the right side -- not mounted with official national honours. Nevertheless, here we have a conspicuous offender in the form of the El Presidente of the Barrhaven branch of the Legion Ernie Hughes. At the neck Mr. Hughes appears to be wearing the Order of St. George and on the breast he has his mounted set of medals (nicely displayed and properly done) but a breast star -- perhaps as a Knight Grand Templar of the Order of St. George?? Neither of these awards are given out by a recognized government or are they in any way official honours. Again, it is against the rules for wearing Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals to wear these outlandish insignia along side official national honours.

A note on deportment -- one never wears breast stars while in a sports jacket, blazer or business suit (lounge suit); at the very least Mr. Hughes should be in morning dress if he is going to wear a breast star during the day. Nevertheless here we have Mr. Hughes looking like the dictator of a small less developed European potentate. 

If you are going to become the poster child for a veteran's cause then you had best not go around sporting medals you aren't authorized to wear -- unless you want to haemorrhage credibility and legitimacy. 

El Presidente Ernie Hughes, Supreme Ruler of Barrhaven

Monday, December 29, 2014

Vice Regal Report Card 2013-14

We have had many requests for an updated Vice Regal Report Card, so as the year comes to an end here it is. Several of the Queen’s representatives across Canada have changed over the past 24 months; a few key offenders have gone on to retirement and been replaced. One notable improvement has come in Alberta where the Lieutenant Governor has started wearing the Lieutenant Governor’s Uniform (Windsor Uniform) that allows him to properly wear three neck decorations simultaneously. Unfortunately Colonel Ethell continues to occasionally wear his Order of Canada and Alberta Order of Excellence simultaneously. Earlier this year he was witnessed in Ottawa wearing his OC and AOE while being presented with the Pearson Peace Medal. Nevertheless he has improved.

The frequently offending Gordon Barnhard, formerly Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan – who routinely wore his Knight of the Order of St. John as a breast decoration with his medal bar – has been replaced by the impeccable Vaugh Solomon Scolfield, who has thus far proven flawless in her deportment.

The worst and most frequent offender, Stephen Point, former Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia went out with a bang, choosing to wear a kilt with the Lieutenant Governor’s Uniform, something that had never happened before – it looked ridiculous. His term as Lieutenant Governor was replete with medal wearing faux pas the likes of which we will hopefully never see again. His successor Judith Guichon has done an excellent job of wearing her orders and medals.

The new Lieutenant Governors;  Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador, have been doing a commendable job of following the medal wearing rules. 

The Governor General has done as reasonable job of wearing his insignia; nevertheless there continue to be errors. At the installation of Pope Francis His Excellency was present wearing just his Companion of the Order of Canada, with no other medals. Some Aide de Camp should remind His Excellency that honours are not jewelry, you do not mix and match – you wear the insignia that is appropriate for the event and order of dress that you are wearing; in this case His Excellency should have also worn his full size medal bar.

Thanks goes out to a number of regular correspondents from across Canada who promptly forward comments and emails about which Lieutenant Governors are following the rules and those who are violating them. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Delusions of Grandeur

We generally do not like to pick on veterans who have served their country in any honourable capacity, however this individual, James Francis Edward, CM, DFC, DFM, CD, clearly knows better. This highly decorated RCAF pilot, who earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and Bar and the Distinguished Flying Medal and then went on to serve at least 22 years in the Canadian Forces (CD and bar), has found a new and highly curious method to wear his Member of the Order of Canada medal. He has eleven medals for gallantry, wars service and long service, and spent more than two decades in uniform, so the individual pictured here knows that there are absolutely NO circumstances under which you wear a medal pinned to your necktie! Perhaps he felt he should have been appointed a OC or a CC.

Obviously his CM should be mounted in with the remainder of his group.  As an aside it is nice to see that the Lieutenant Governor of BC has such a strong record of wearing her orders and medals correctly.

The latest in style for tie pins, use your Member of the Order of Canada!

Peter C. Newman, CC, CD, RCN

Here we have Captain Peter C. Newman, CC, CD, RCN (ret'd), a venerable old sort who seems to need a bit of direction on how to wear his Order of Canada. Newman spent a good number of years in the RCN rising from service as a rating to being a four ringer. Unfortunately no one has bothered to inform Mr. Newman that when in mess dress he is required to wear his CC insignia from a miniature width ribbon. Sadly the internet is littered with photos of him wearing his CC in the Adrienne Clarkson "Olympic medal style" (see the very post ever made to this blog for a full description).
Peter C. Newman wearing his CC in the Clarkson Olympic Medal style
Disturbingly Newman has committed a more serious offence in the wearing of no less than FIVE unofficial medals -- in violation of Order-in-Council 591-1998. The first medal is the Royal Lifesaving Society of Canada's Medal of Merit, the other insignia are all of unknown origins (if you recognize some of them please write and let us know). The last one appears to be one of the Japanese Red Cross Medals with rosette. There is really no need to suffer from Instant Dictator Syndrome when you have a CC and such a distinguished career to back you up.

Newman again wearing his CC incorrectly,
along with a bevy of unofficial honours on his miniature medal bar.
The poor Governor General has to smile no matter how poorly turned out a person is. 
Help us identify the mystery medals… is the last one really the Nigeria Independence Medal?
Is the one beside it the Japanese Red Cross Medal? 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

OFFENDER OF THE MONTH: Adrienne Clarkson of the PPCLI

Since coming into public office as Governor General of Canada in October 1999, The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, PC, CC, CMM, COM, CD, has made it her life's work to wear her orders, decorations and medals incorrectly.

The litany of Clarkson errors dates back to her first official portrait as Governor General where she was pictured wearing her Order of Canada insignia on a full length investiture ribbon -- like a giant olympic medal. Our post of October 2010 "The Clarkson Years and Beyond" catalogues the Clarksonian medal wearing stupidity that no mandarin at Rideau Hall or the Department of National Defence ever deigned to correct.

How sad that she has continued this quest to offend the rules for wearing medals as the Colonel-in-Chief of one of our most auspicious regiments, The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry. As the venerable and valorious PPCLI celebrate the centennial of their establishment members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the general public have been subjected to regular appearances by Mme. Clarkson, invariably wearing his medals incorrectly. 

What is Clarkson doing wrong? She is wearing her Companion of the Order of Canada around the neck while also wearing her Commander of the Order of Military Merit on her shoulder on a bow. The rules for wearing orders, decorations and medals in Canada require that she can only wear one of these insignia at a time.
The Rt. Hon Adrienne Clarkson,
once again doubling up with her CC around the neck and CMM on a bow, all at the same time. 
It is unfortunate that no one in the entire Canadian Armed Forces has yet bothered to inform her of the constant error and embarrassment that she is causing, not only to herself but the PPCLI and the CF as a whole. 

Perhaps more worrisome -- is the likelihood that she has been informed of the repeated errors, but simply does not care. Evidence of the dreaded INSTANT DICTATOR SYNDROME. An inability to respect and adhere to the ceremonies and traditions of the CF, and the rules for wearing medals issued by the office she once served, should certainly disqualify her for the position of Colonel-in-Chief. If Mme. Clarkson doesn't like the rule that she cannot wear a full size Order insignia around the neck and a full size Order insignia on a bow simultaneously, then she should petition to have the rule changed rather than just breaking the rule.
Major, you should speak to your Colonel-in-Chief and let her know she is wearing her medals wrong.
Basic training for an Aide de Camp/Equerry is ensuring that your principal is properly turned out.

Let us hope that at some point during the PPCLI's Centennial Year that a well informed member of the Regiment will take it upon themselves to inform their Colonel-in-Chief that she needs to correct her order of dress and the manner in which she has been wearing her insignia. Lady Patricia Ramsay, for whom the PPCLI is named, and her illustrious father, HRH Field Marshal the Duke of Connaught, would certainly not be amused with what has become of the Colonel-in-Chief of their beloved Regiment. 

After so many years of suffering from Instant Dictator Syndrome, is it possible that Clarkson in incurable of this terrible affliction?