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.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Why wear unofficial medals Colonel Ethell?

As noted in my post of November 16, the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, His Honour, Colonel (ret) Donald Ethell has been spotted sporting two unofficial medals in his layered group of miniatures. Given that this retired officer has legitimately earned 17 medals (in his mini group) one has to wonder why he has resorted to puffing up his group with two Veterans Association ersatz medals that you purchase for $150.00+ from a company in Denmark. Even the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association website directs its members who purchase these souvenirs NOT to wear or mount them with their official medals. Quote;
“The Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association (CPVA) does not approve nor condemn the purchase and wearing of private commemorative medals and other insignia by its members. However, CPVA members should exercise good judgement regarding the sentimental value of these unofficial commemoratives versus the greater value of the official service decorations which they wear in public. These medals and devices are not recognized by the Government of Canada and are not listed in the official order of precedence. Members are hereby advised that such commemorative devices are to be worn over the right breast only and may not be juxtaposed with official service medals or affixed to the ribbons thereof. Members are further advised to consult the official website of the Governor-General of Canada.
It has been rumoured that Colonel Ethell is soon to be made an honorary Colonel in the CF. I wonder if there is an RSM out there who will be brave enough to confront Ethell on his host of errors in wearing Canadian orders, decorations and medals?

Several readers from Alberta have expressed the view that their Lieutenant Governor just doesn't care about the rules. I have no idea if this is the reality of the situation, however in the New Year the plan is to send this blog out to a few media outlets -- it seems that public attention to the total lack of respect for the regulations governing the wear of Canadian medals is the only tool we have to get this erstwhile Colonel/Lieutenant Governor to follow the rules... rules that he spent a highly successful career in the service of his country following. Sadly Ethell's knowledge and regard for what is proper (in terms of wearing medals) appears to have evaporated in civilian life.

Positive Signs

Since this blog made its debut we have seen a significant improvement in the way some public figures wear their medals. Of course we cannot prove that this improvement is on account of the "Wearing Your Medals Wrong Blog" but with more than 6,000 hits now, it seems likely that at least some offenders have been informed of their newfound notoriety.  In the Vice-Regal report card issued on October 24 the Lieutenant Governors of Alberta, British Columbia and Nova Scotia, along with former Governor General Jean were given less than stellar marks. It is not believed that Mme. Jean has worn her medals since leaving office, but her predecessor Adrienne Clarkson, a long time medal wearing rule offender, was spotted at the Vimy Dinner in Ottawa wearing her medals CORRECTLY!

All is correct.
Continuing on the positive side, Lieutenant Governor Steven Point of British Columbia has greatly improved, and there have been no additional photos of the Lieutenant Governor Mayanne Francis of Nova Scotia wearing one medal on the right and one on the left with her provincial order hung too low (see post of October 9). It seems as though the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta and Major General Richard Rohmer are lost causes. Readers who have ideas of how to get these highly-decorated and accomplished individuals to follow the rules are encouraged to email them in. Perhaps in 2011 will see more public figures following the rules.
Why wear the CC lapel pin?

The Governor General has been spotted "doubling up" on honours by wearing his CMM, medal bar and Order of Canada lapel pin. While this is a relatively minor infraction, it should be dealt with as wearing a Order's lapel pin with other full size or miniature insignia is improper.

A few readers have sent me photos taken on Remembrance Day, I encourage others to do so in advance of a posting on the subject.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Steven Point: Getting it right!


We are very pleased to note that His Honour the Honourable Steven Point seems to have begun wearing his orders, decorations and medals correctly. This is great news and it is hoped that he will continue this trend so that we can let past errors slip into the background.  While Point is not wearing his Golden Jubilee Medal on the Lieutenant Governor's uniform we are more than willing to overlook this very minor error in favour of the fact he has everything else correct in these photos. There are other photos of recent events showing this Lieutenant Governor wearing his medals correctly. Excellent work! If this continues BC will have a Lieutenant Governor who is A+ in the medal wearing department by the New Year. Sadly the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta has continued his assault on the traditions and rules of proper deportment when wearing medals. Soon to be posted, "wonderful" photos taken during Remembrance Day in Toronto.

Alberta Again: It is getting worse

The Honourable Donald Ethell has found yet more ways to wear his orders, decorations and medals incorrectly. In this photo he is wearing his trademark two neck insignia, accompanied by his double rowed miniatures including two unofficial awards, and his Order of St. John breast star. You are not supposed to wear miniatures during the day and it is not a Canadian tradition to layer miniature medals. In addition to this you are not supposed to wear the breast star of the Order of St. John on a business suit (even then it is way too high!). A link to this blog was emailed to the Lieutenant Governors staff, no response as of yet. This is one of the best examples of "How NOT to wear your medals" that Canada has. Even Richard Rohmer has not gone this far.