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.

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?

Friday, July 25, 2014

OFFENDER OF THE MONTH: General Rick Hillier

General (Ret'd) Rick Hillier, OC, OMM, ONL, MSC, CD

Unfortunately our former Chief of the Defence Staff, a well respected and appropriately recognized retired soldier, has succumbed to the dreaded Instant Dictator Syndrome. The blog email box has been flooded over the past two months with emails about Canada's former top solider dawning three neck insignia simultaneously, while in civilian attire. 

With all due respect General, you don't need to do this. Your group of miniature medals more than adequately reflects your service to Canada, and one neck insignia is always enough when it comes to wearing mess dress or civilian clothing. 

One neck gong is enough Sir...

Even the precedence for his OC, CMM and ONL is wrong, and in Black Tie/Dinner Jacket the neck insignia is to be worn from miniature width ribbon. If you want to look like a Soviet olympian then I suppose this is the path to follow. Let us hope that one of General Hillier's colleagues will eventually point out that he is out of dress and looks rather desperate to impress with three neck insignia. 

Major-General George Pearkes.
Paragon of propriety and correct civilian deportment.

As noted in our post of October 9, 2010, if the VC winning Major General George R. Pearkes, VC, PC, CC, CB, DSO, MC, CD, (also a Knight of the Order of Saint John and a Commander of the US Legion of Merit) who was entitled to four neck decorations, could get by with wearing one neck gong at a time while in civilian attire, why can't others?