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.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Can You Wear Medals in Space? The Governor General's Otherworldly Approach to Medals

It is probably best to start off this posting by saying outright that Governor General, Julie Payette seems to have absolutely no clue about how to wear her orders, decorations and medals. 
Rt. Hon. Julie Payette... new to wearing medals.

As this blog has noted repeatedly over the past eight years, there are inevitably some people in public life who habitually wear their medals wrong. There are of course, some who are never supposed to be seen wearing their medals incorrectly -- those citizens who hold important office being top of the list. This elite group includes such notables as the Commissioner of the RCMP (when we had one – apply now here), the Chief of the Defence Staff, other senior members of the various uniformed services, the head of the Royal Canadian Legion, and of course the Governor General. With the departure of Bob Paulson as Commissioner of the RCMP (who spent his time as Commissioner wearing an unrecognized medal and violating Order-in-Council 1998-591 with impunity) we had a brief period where it seemed this group of people were all behaving well and following the rules for the most part. Sadly this period of medal wearing bliss has come to an abrupt end with the arrival of Julie Payette in Ottawa.

Before going further it is worth noting that among the many emails we receive, not all include photos of various offenders wearing illegal/unrecognized medals. There are some who write to complain that this blog is irreverent, and “how dare we deride those who have achieved greatness in public life.” Thankfully we live in a country where you can criticize and poke fun at those who have reached high office and who have inevitably committed some gaffe or embarrassment...  and you don’t have to worry about being carted off to a gulag. Canadians have certain expectations of those who hold high office and one of those expectations is that they will follow the law of the land – that is, they will follow the rules of the play ground. In the world of orders, decorations and medals there are very specific rules about how you wear your medals – yet some people just do not care, or worse yet, think they are “more special” than the rest of us, so they get carte blanche to do whatever they want. 

President Diaz of Mexico.
Sadly, it seems the new Governor General, Julie Payette, CC, CMM, COM, CQ, CD, has at this early stage in her time as Canada’s head of state, demonstrated that she just doesn’t care about the rules or she is clueless and isn't willing to learn; what medically is known as "Early Onset Instant Dictator Syndrome," or EOIDS -- see page 544 of the DSM-5. This ailment traces its history back to President Diaz of Mexico and the late 1890s, although some European monarchs of the 19th century suffered from a milder form, Diaz had the first diagnosed case. 

The immediate past Governor General, David Johnston was a pro at wearing his medals. In his last four months in office (June to September), Johnston undertook 81 events/visits (where photos were posted) at which 13 were events where medals were worn – and he worn them correct every single time, thats a 100% success rate. 

In her first four months in office (October to January) Julie Payette undertook 40 events where photos were posted on her website. Of these medals were worn on 13 occasions, and at 10 of these (that is 77%) she managed to wear her medals incorrectly. This includes pretty much every medal wearing error possible;  doubling up on bows, neck ribbon that is too long and more suitable for the Winter Olympics, not wearing a medal bar when wearing neck insignia, wearing a miniature Order of Canada insignia, but not her full size Order of Canada at a formal dinner, and failing to wear her various medals while reviewing a CAF Guard of Honour where everyone else was wearing their medals. It appears the Governor General views medals as little more than awkward jewellery. But it is actually much worse when you compare this Governor General to her recent predecessors, Michaelle Jean and David Johnston, and how they performed during their first four months in office -- we won't comment on the "operational tempo" of the new Governor General.  

Michaelle Jean
David Johnston
Julie Payette
No. events 1st four months in office
No. events where medals worn
Occasions medals worn correctly
Medal Wearing Grade
*This survey is not scientific as we can only derive the figures from the photos posted on the Governor General’s website. 

So in the field of wearing orders, decorations and medals, Payette is absolutely dismal at wearing her gongs. Probably worse than anyone else who has ever lived in Rideau Hall – since the beginning of Canada. Not exactly an outstanding start to her time in office. 

Now loyal readers, for our gallery of Governor General Medal Wearing Horrors: 
WRONG: Neck ribbon too long, where is your medal bar and
why are you wearing a CC lapel pin as well? 

WRONG: But almost correct. Sadly, neck ribbon is too long... you're not at the Olympics. 

WRONG: You should be wearing your full size CC,
and you full miniature bar. 

WRONG: Two bows are not permitted... historians note this is the first time the
Order of Canada and Order of Military Merit have been worn on a snowsuit. 
WRONG: You should be wearing medals not a lapel pin.

WRONG: Where is your medal bar? 
WRONG: Not wearing your medal bar again. 

We had more than two dozen emails about Her Excellency on Remembrance Day wearing her RCAF Uniform – which she is entitled to wear as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. The uniform suits her well, but of the 28 emails, many from current serving members of the CAF, 23 of them noted that her hair was not in conformity with regulation. 
CORRECT: except the non-regulation haircut. 

Governor General Payette, with the greatest respect, you're NOT King Louis XIV, you can’t just do whatever you want when it comes to wearing medals and CAF uniforms. You're suppose to serve as an example for all Canadians.

The anarchist approach to wearing medals might be fun for school plays and Halloween, but it is unbecoming the Commander-in-Chief. 


  1. With all due respect: I would like to state that Her Majesty The Queen of Canada is our Head of State and Her Excellency the Governor General represents The Queen.

    Please allow me to also state that I have learn a lot reading your posts. Thank you for your support of the Canadian Honours System.

  2. Thanks, we will correct this in future postings.

  3. Great blog post and really helpful.Thanks for sharing.
    Running medal displays & hangers

  4. Good day Inspector General: I hope that you are doing well. In defence of Her Excellency the Governor General, her hair would be within regulations: - look at page 22.

    I do prefer the bun, however, the braid has been authorised for at least the last 10 years.

    1. A good point, but I'll counter that 2-2-12 states the braids are "not worn with ceremonial or full dress".