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.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Ministers Behaving Badly: The Hon. Harjit Sajjan, PC, OMM, MSM, CD, MP (wearer of unauthorized gongs)

Having read our recent post about Brigadier-General Rob Roy MacKenzie wearing a popcorn police medal (the Vancouver Police Department 125th Anniversary Commemorative Medal, $29.95 each), one of our eagle eyed readers sent along several pictures of the Minister of National Defence wearing his miniature medals, with a strange addition. This is a first, we have never had cause to go after any Minister of National Defence for medal wearing indiscretions. 

It's bad enough the Minister is wearing his miniatures during the daytime!
It is of course much worse that he is wearing a totally unauthorized medal. 
US Army Commendation Medal
The photos reveal the Honourable Harjjit Sajjan having "enhanced' his group of medals with the US Army Meritorious Service Medal. But what could possibly be wrong with that?? Well a few things. Aside from the generous distribution of this particular award at the direction of all manner of minor commanders and bureaucrats who toil away serving the US Secretary of the Army, no Canadian has ever been permitted to wear this medal, because it does not come from a Head of State. Unlike the US Legion of Merit, the US Army Meritorious Service Medal doesn't come from the President of the USA. It is just a departmental award, so it can't be worn with officially granted honours. 
The Minister's illegal medal group!
A night on the town with fellow veterans (who haven't enhanced their medal groups).
No sign of the unauthorized medal
with his full size group of medals. 
Now it would seem the Minister is aware of this because in photos of him wearing his full size group of medals this particular medal is nowhere to be found. If the Minister thought the medal was approved for wear he would have certainly had it mounted with his full size medals, however he has clearly knowingly engaged in  enhancing his miniature group because he figures the rules don't apply to the miniature medals.

No doubt in addition to wanting to look more important with an extra medal in his rack, the Minister plausibly just figured "oh its ok to wear it with my miniatures, even though it was never approved... because I have to buy the miniatures, the regulations only apply to my full size medals. I earned this medal and I'm going to wear it!"

Well this is patently wrong. Just because you have to purchase your miniature medals doesn't mean you can add in unrecognized and unauthorized gongs. You also have to buy your entire mess dress uniform and you can't fancy it up with a bit of additional gold cording or extra Crowns. What makes all this worse is that it is not a recent affectation, the Minister was doing this when he was still in uniform as shown in this photo below, taken several years before he became Minister. This is in violation of CFP 265, Canadian Forces Dress Instructions, Chapter 4-1 which clearly states "AUTHORIZED honours (orders, decorations, medals and the insignia for mentions-in-dispatches, commendations and citations) may be worn, when appropriate, by entitled personnel." Of course the US Army Commendation Medal is NOT AUTHORIZED and thus cannot be worn by anyone wearing a CF uniform of any type. 

The Minister, before he was Minister, wearing the unauthorized
US Army Commendation Medal...
breaking a few CF Dress Regulations and an Order-in-Council. 
For the civilian version of the Minister (and this is what the CF regulations are derived from), he is in violation of our beloved Order-in-Council 1998-891, section 7, which states, "The insignia of orders, decorations and medals not listed in this Directive, as well as foreign awards, the award of which has been approved by the Government of Canada, SHALL NOT BE MOUNTED OR WORN in conjunction with orders, decorations and medals listed in this Directive." (i.e. all Canadian honours). This applies to both miniature and full size medals. 

Hopefully by the time Remembrance Day rolls around the Minister will have corrected this serious infraction. Having the head of the national police force, Commissioner Bob Paulson parade around wearing a popcorn police medal is bad enough without adding members of the Federal Cabinet to the list of public offenders of the rules they are suppose to uphold. 


  1. Simply another example of the old Liberal saying..."Rules for thee, not for me".

  2. No sign of the "Meritorious Service medal" on his full size group at the remembrance service in Vancouver today. Do you think he might have learned his lesson???

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  4. The wearing of medals apply to serving members. He is not a serving member, he is a civilian.

  5. I don't have a prob with pointing out his american MSM. However, you point to an old pic and say " see he isn't wearing it here ". Well in the one pic he was a Maj (He left service as a LCol) and you'll notice he hasn't yet been awarded the OMM and cdn MSC. Keep in mind he MAY have been given the American award by the head of state. It may be awarded by lower commanders, lesser awards have been given and allowed because the nominator took the time to get the appropriate approvals. That all said... I don't have a lot of time for a guy who used chicken bones and a dart board to advise the commander and completely disregarded experts yet David Fraser called him his 'intelligence specialist '. Yeah PRes Armd Recce... his arrogance cost Canadian lives... but that is a whole other story.