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, 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!