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 23, 2016

Commissioner Paulson: The Habitual Breaker of Regulations... even his own

Several kind readers have sent us recent photos of the Commissioner of the RCMP, Bob Paulson, committing various offences related to medal wearing. Yes he continues to wear the unapproved British Columbia Police Meritorious Service Medal, which we revealed in our post of September 25, 2015. It seems the head of our national police forces remains immune from following the direction of the Government of Canada (a.k.a. his boss) when it comes to wearing orders, decorations and medals. Or perhaps he has a "get out of jail free card" for habitually wearing unrecognized medals.

Cmmr. Paulson: "Why officer, I have this card that allows me to break the rules,
allow me to present it to you... you do know who I am of course. Why would I, head of the
 national police force and enforcer of the laws of the land, have to follows some
regulation that prevents me from wearing whatever crackerjack medals I like!"

Last Friday the Governor General held an investiture for the Order of Merit of the Police Forces. As per tradition a parade of police officers presented themselves to the GG to receive their medals, and as usual, a number of completely phoney and unrecognized medals were worn by the people who are sworn to uphold the law of the land. Now violating a mere Order-in-Council (1998-591), the regulation that outlines what medals a Canadian can wear with other official honours, might seem a minor thing, but having those who have a duty to defend the law breaking these sorts of rules is bothersome. We don't get to pick and choose which regulations and laws we follow... unless it would seem you are certain police officers; then you can just do whatever you like with no fear of sanction -- just the ridicule of a minor blog. 
Exhibit A: Commissioner Paulson with his trumped up medal group. 
Of course our illustrious Commissioner of the RCMP showed up at Rideau Hall again wearing his illegal medal, the British Columbia Police Meritorious Service Medal, yet another one of those provincial cracker jack gongs that duplicate a national honour. 

Exhibit B: The Commissioner on parade... issue that
man with a ticket for wearing an unauthorized gong!

It is more than a bit disturbing to see that the Commissioner is not only suffering from the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome, by wearing a phony medal, but that he is now also engaging in Reichsmarshall Herman Goering's favourite wartime hobby of improvising and enhancing his collection of uniforms. Where is the RCMP's buttons, ribbons and bows brigade to correct the wayward Commissioner? 

How precisely has he enhanced his uniforms? Well first off it it a bit bizarre to see the Commissioner wearing RCMP Collar Badges on his Red Serge tunic that have not been authorized for wearing since 1955 (i.e. they have a King's Tudor Crown on them and are silver)... but he can make up the rules, he is after all the  El Supremeo leader of all the men and women in red serge. Somehow I don't think RCMP Constables have the same degree of freedom to improvise what they pin on their uniforms. 

But wait, there is more! He has invented an entirely new order of dress, for "Commissioners Only" it would seem. Recently the Commissioner was spotted, in Ottawa wearing his RCMP Blue Serge tunic with full size medals. Now last we checked in the RCMP Dress Regulations -- and this is confirmed by a few of our enthusiastic readers who are members of the RCMP -- no one is authorized to wear medals with this order of dress (undress ribbons only). It seems likely that the Commissioner didn't want to show up to an Army event wearing Red Serge, sticking out like a carrot in an omelet,  but what to do for an event were everyone else will be wearing medals? I know, just break your own rules and invent a new order of dress! 

Of course it's not a "uniform" if you're the only one wearing it, its just a costume... so Blue Serge with Full Size Medals = The Paulson Costume... several months ahead of Halloween!

RCMP Blue Serge Tunic with medals... that hasn't been in the RCMP regulation for many years.
But hey, the Commissioner can just invent the rules... it worked for various military leaders, most of
whom fought for the Axis powers.

Proper RCMP Officers don't go dressing up their medal groups with crackerjack medals, nor do they enhance the dress regulations.  Commissioner Paulson should follow the sterling example of Sir Sam Steele, an early member of the Force who will be remembered long after Paulson has been pensioned off.
A proper RCMP Officer, Sir Sam Steele.
Steele had no need for fake medals, but then again, of his six gongs, four were for  fighting in actual wars.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Remembrance Day Faux Pas: Mike Blais

We had half a dozen emails about Remembrance Day 2015 and apologies to those who have been patiently awaiting for this post. We always find it amazing that with the prospect of being on national television, some people who attend the service at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, will still "enhance" their group of medals with phoney gongs -- or at least insignia they shouldn't be wearing when they are wearing officially recognized orders, decorations and medals that they have rightfully earned.

Here we have Michael L. Blais, CD, founder of The Canadian Veterans Advocacy wearing his well earned Special Service Medal, Peacekeeping Service Medal, UN Medal for Cyprus and Canadian Forces Decoration. But what is that around his neck? Was Blais awarded Canada's highest decoration for civil bravery the Cross of Valour... which is also worn around the neck on a red ribbon. Is it Imperial Russia's Order of St. Anne for service in the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force (1919-1920), or has Mr. Blais been made a Commander of some fancy South American Order? 

M.L. Blais wearing a mystery medal at the neck -- Prime Minister Trudeau looks on wondering "that looks a bit like the Companion of Honour medal that the Queen gave my dad... how did yo get something like that?"

Is that the Cross of Valour you're wearing Mr. Blais? 
It appears that Mr. Blais is wearing the International Knightly Order of St. George. The Order is a charity of some sort which hands out orders, decorations and medals to donors and do gooders... of course none of these "medals" are officially recognized, and it is against the rules for wearing Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals, to wear the insignia from this group with any official honours -- not even with miniatures. Below is the insignia of the Order -- displaying the Holy Crown of Hungary at its top. One has to wonder what the Government of the Republic of Hungry thinks of this important part of their Coat of Arms being used by some group in Canada.

The Order of St. George, as worn by former
Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier.
Order of St. George pooh bah, Rick Hillier.
Wearing a dinner jacket and miniatures in the middle of the day...
but that is a whole other issue. We hope the Air Cadet isn't taking pointers on deportment from the retired General.

As we pointed out in our February 4, 2015 posting about another veterans' advocate Sean Bruyea, if you're going to become a champion for the cause of veterans, you had better not go dressing up your group of medals. Wearing fake and unrecognized orders, decorations and medals just drains you of any legitimacy. For the former Chief of the Defence Staff, Rick Hillier to be parading around wearing this bauble is an embarrassment. How long until he tries to wear this along with his OC, CMM and ONL all simultaneously?

Calgary: Crazy About Imaginary Medals

Since Christmas we have had a number of emails asking for a post on this topic. Following an all too common practice amongst a variety of protective services across Canada (QC, NS, BC, MB, SK, AB are all offenders), the Province of Alberta and Calgary Police Force have taken upon themselves to establish a whole range of medals. This wouldn't be a problem if the recipients of these medals chose to either not wear them at all, or to wear them on the righthand side of their uniforms -- sadly the allure of looking like a war hero and dressing up a group of medals has been too much for Calgary's constabulary to resist.

Alberta Law Enforcement
Long Service Medal
There are two medals (so far!); the Alberta Police Long Service Medal and the Calgary Police Long Service Medal -- both are totally unauthorized for wear by Federal authorities, so they are in fact just what many members of the Canadian Armed Forces call "popcorn medals." Other monikers such as "crackerjack awards" or "I want to look way more important than I am medals" are also totally appropriate. Were Alberta or Calgary an independent city state in medieval Europe all this would be fine. The reality is city and its police force are municipal bodies established by the province and neither the city nor the police force have any authority to create "honours." While the province can create honours, if they aren't recognized by the federal government they cannot be worn. At least not without breaking all the rules.
Former Calgary Chief Constable Rick Hanson,
wearing the undress ribbon of 2 unauthorized  "fake" medals. 

Calgary's former Chief Constable Rick Hanson is pictured left, wearing 2 of the imaginary "Alberta/Calgary City State Medals." So along with his Order of Merit of the Police Force, Queen Elizabeth Golden Jubilee Medal, Police Exemplary Service Medal and the Alberta Centennial Medal, Hanson has 2 mystery medals. The first mystery medal is the Alberta Law Enforcement Long Service Medal. Created by the provincial government it is awarded for 25 years service. I guess the federal Police Exemplary Service Medal which is awarded for 20 years service (then bars at 30 and 40 years) was not sufficient recognition.

The Calgary Police Long Service Medal
The last one is the Calgary Police Long Service Medal -- which I am sure you will be glad to know can be purchased on eBay for under $40.00. The beautiful cast quality of this medal makes it look suitable for conferral by the Head of State of any failed less developed country (TPLAC). Clearly those great minds in the Calgary Police Department felt that having a long service medal from the Government of Canada/Queen of Canada was not sufficient, so they invented their own. For those of you who have a cursory understanding of Canadian honours policy you will know that dual recognition (that is receiving 2 medals for the same thing) is not allowed, at least not when it comes to the creation of new honours. Certainly Calgary must win some prize for allowing its police officers to wear no less than THREE medals for the same long service. The "Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excessive Recognition Medal" would be a nice addition to their homemade honours system.

The problem is all compounded in the photo below of the new Calgary Chief Constable Roger Chaffin, being invested as an Officer of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces by the Governor General -- that stand-in for the fount of honours, the Queen.

Calgary Chief Constable Roger Chaffin with the Governor General.
I guess no one at Rideau Hall noticed all the unauthorized medals on the
Chief Constable's chest? 
Good manners cost nothing, so really, who shows up to the Governor General's house wearing a host of imaginary medals?!! I can hardly wait until every province has established a long service medal for those of its residents who wear a uniform. There are thousands of members of the Canadian Armed Forces who have lived in multiple provinces -- they will look resplendent when (I am making some of these up) the Ontario Uniformed Service Medal, Nova Scotia Protective Services Medal, Alberta Protective Services Medal, Quebec Public Protection Medal and Saskatchewan Protective Services Medal are mounted beside their CD and overseas operations medals.

The Gilbert & Sullivan line out of the Gondoliers, "when everyone is somebody, then no-one's anybody!" holds true with orders, decorations and medals. When everyone is wearing a sea or coloured ribbons and clinking medals, they become meaningless baubles.

Sadly as we have seen in the previous post, our national police force, the RCMP and its Commissioner, Bob Paulson, who has come down with a bad case of the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome, no longer feel they should be bound by the rules set out by the Governor General. I guess when it comes to wearing medals the police are above the law -- let us hope this attitude doesn't bleed over into other areas of the policing profession!

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.