Introduction

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.

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?















14 comments:

  1. sounds like the rules are for serving regular force, because civilians can get honors from other sources ie. Order of St. John which is worn with uniform or Order of the Garter which I imagine was also overlooked in the heraldry regulations cited, because only 26 people can wear it, I doubt they made a rule. The choice for a non-serving member to wear what they want, is clear to me, it is a choice. Because the Charter defines Freedom very clearly, and that he earned or was awarded the medal or honor is clearly an indication he should wear it at some point. I suppose this writer would be technically correct, if Mike Blais was serving, but he is not, he is a Veteran with multiple awards and honors who chose to wear them with pride, expressing that pride. Now, if he was wearing them technically wrong, once again he is a retired Veteran, and worthy of forgiveness for such mistake. Of course this writer could find a more worthy target, one not embattled with VAC and the insurer, but he did not, I will not ascribe motive, but clearly there is a blade unsheathed.

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    1. You might want to read this, it is one of the actual things we fight for as serving members, and enjoy the benefits of as Veterans and Civilians. http://www.law.utoronto.ca/utfl_file/count/documents/Roach/Chapter%2010%20Roach%20Schneiderman.pdf

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    2. FYI:
      The Order of St. George, Grand Priory of Canada and the Americas, established in 2003 and registered as a charitable, non-profit corporation in 2006, has a mission of charity and through the Order's Foundation, contributes funding in support of our wounded or fallen military personnel and their immediate families as well as to other worthy causes. The Order — which enjoys the patronage of General (Ret'd) Rick Hillier, CMM, MSC, CD and Vice Patron MGen (Ret'd) Lewis MacKenzie CM, OOnt, MSC and Bar, CD — is based on the principles described in the Statutes which defined the first monarchical secular military Order of Chivalry created in Europe operated, founded by King Károly Róbert of Hungary (also known as Charles 1 of Hungary) as the Fraternal Society of Knighthood of St. George. Although the precise date of its foundation is not known, it was certainly in existence on St. George's Day on the 23rd of April, 1326.

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  2. The pedantic might want to understand their own situation. Yes, medals to be worn accordingly and to fashion as in how they are "supposed" to be worn. Rules are generally made for those they can be enforced upon, I sincerely doubt, beyond shaming that there is any enforcement that can be done on a civilian wearing earned medals or honors of any kind even from a cereal box, if they choose to express themselves that way ie. dress themselves as they wish. And to marginalize their service and recognition to civilian and other organizations, is what I would refer to as elitist. As is the commentary couched within this piece, who is the writer to assume too much in dictating the dress of civilians even Veterans ? I would point him to the nearest U.S. , U.K. Remembrance Day or Armistice Day, point him to the thousands of proud veterans expressing their pride with medals on leather, on suits, on dresses, together with honors of service and accomplishment from many organizations. Surely the writer can see the difference between a serving member, who can be legislated, ruled over and run ruff shod upon and a civilian veteran whom is expressing their very pride in their own service and accomplishments ? Surely, the writer would not want to obstruct or hinder or interfere in any way with such a person guaranteed rights under the Charter ? What is more important after all, the medals and the pedantry or the pride of the person ? I would say that one can have rules, but one must understand who they apply to and when and why, otherwise they are just using a bully pulpit for contrived personal aggrandizement.

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  3. Blais medals in the top photo don't jive with the second one. What's with the clasp in the first picture?

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  4. so is the author of this an expert on military protocols, is he/she an actual appointed inspector general, appointed by the various levels of Government to write this drivel, or is it just a feeble attempt to discredit those who have actually stood up and support veterans?

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    1. I am not the one wearing make believe medals. Mr. Blais, if you don't want to be the subject of public ridicule then don't go around wearing insignia of unrecognized orders, decorations and medals in flagrant violation of Order-in-Council P.C. 1998-591, Canadian Orders Decorations and Medals Directive, http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SI-98-55/page-1.html

      Incidentally this applies to ALL Canadians, regardless of whether or not you are or have ever served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Next Remembrance Day make the choice, either wear the odd looking red ribboned bauble around your neck OR your properly earned group of official Canadian medals and decorations. -- Remembrance Day isn't a mix and match dress up occasion.

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  5. Blais is wearing a club membership around his neck, it's a insult to those that have earned Orders/decorations that are worn around the neck that are part of the Canadian Honours System, it's vulgar and in this case IMHO it is an effort to try and increase his "credibility" as a veterans advocate by dupping people who are not aware it isn't a real Order/decoration.

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  6. http://www.orderstgeorge.ca/documents/can_honours_sys_wearing_orders_decorations.pdf

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  7. Funny you should tell this to the RCMP those who inforce the law on wearing medals because they themselves wear civilian medals on the right side. By the way the military don't give medals it's the Governor General who award them. The military have rules on how to wear them which are not the same rules for civilian or Police, Firemen,first responders organization.

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    2. Thanks for that Le Mountie. In fact all official honours in Canada come from the Crown, aka The Queen of Canada, who is Canada's head of state. The Governor General and Lieutenant Governors preside over investitures and of course, the Governor General has administrative responsibility for the Canadian Honours System. As for the wearing of insignia, you are correct, the Canadian Armed Forces, RCMP, and the other emergency services have rules for how and when to wear orders, decorations and medals on their various orders of dress. What should be noted is that it is Order in Council 1998-591, "The Canadian Orders, Decorations and Medals" directive, which is a Federal Regulation, authorized by the Governor General on behalf of the Queen (fount of honours) on the advice of the Federal Cabinet. This directive, which is a non-stauatory instrument is a regulation outlining precisely which orders, decorations and medals may be worn by Canadians -- and in what sequence they are to be worn, when they are wearing officially granted orders, medals and decorations. The directive conveniently lists ALL officially recognized national and provincial orders, decorations and medals (those added after 1998 are denoted by a *). If the order, decoration or medal is not on this list then section 7 of this Order-in-Council clearly states "7. The insignia of orders, decorations and medals not listed in this Directive, as well as foreign awards, the award of which has not been approved by the Government of Canada, shall not be mounted or worn in conjunction with orders, decorations and medals listed in this Directive." The important part of this clause is "SHALL NOT BE MOUNTED OR WORN IN CONJUNCTION WITH ORDERS, DECORATIONS AND MEDALS LISTED IN THIS DIRECTIVE." So the RCMP and various protective services, and other Canadians can wear all the imaginary and unauthorized orders, decorations and medals they like -- but you SHALL NOT wear them in conjunction with officially granted honours -- so they can't wear the unauthorized medals with things such as the RCMP Long Service Medal, Diamond Jubilee Medal or any of the Exemplary Service Medals. Only the Governor-in-Council (the federal Cabinet) can add honours to this list -- so that the RCMP allows in its dress regulations for medals other than those listed in the Order-in-Council to be worn is totally inconsequential, as the RCMP does not have the authority to violate or override an Order-in-Council, only the Federal Cabinet has the ability to do this through amending or reminding the Order-in-Council in question. It is pretty poor form for the RCMP to be going about violating a federal regulation. The myriad of provincial and municipal forces that have created wearable medals are entitled to do that, however they should only be worn on the right hand side, and not be mounted in with officially granted orders, medals and decorations.

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  8. Be sure to send Hiller a copy of that memo as well, since he no longer has a CWO to dress him properly. LOL

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