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 27, 2018

Julie Payette: NASA Medals before the Order of Canada?

After being reported in the National Post that Governor General Julie Payette was wearing a NASA Medal at an "International Symposium on Symbols and Honours" in late May we sought a photo. 

We have been sent several pictures, although the clearest one is shown here. This was sent to us by three different blog followers. In the image below you can see Her Excellency wearing two NASA Medals -- this photo is also on the TwitterFeed of the Global Affairs Canada Protocol Chief. 
The Governor General wearing TWO NASA medals; May 2018.
The NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the NASA Space Flight Medal
NASA Exceptional Service Medal 
One has to feel sorry for the poor Army ADC  who had to stand looking respectful as the Governor General and Commander in Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces, spoke to a room full of medals officials and heraldry experts, wearing not her Order of Canada or Order of Military Merit insignia, but two unapproved medals. Apparently Her Excellency went on at some length about how the medals were for "heroism". So the head of the Canadian Armed Forces doesn't think the rules about wearing medals apply to her.
NASA Space Flight Medal

So what is the problem with the Governor General wearing NASA Medals? Well, the rules set out by the Government of Canada for the wearing of orders, decorations and medals, both Canadian and foreign (through Order in Council 1998-591) clearly state in section 4  “Foreign orders, decorations and medals the award of which is approved by the Government of Canada are worn after the orders, decorations and medals referred to in sections 1 and 3,....” 

A search of the Canada Gazette which lists the approval of such awards revealed Canada has never approved any NASA medals for anyone, not even Governor General Payette. Added to this fact is that like the frequently awarded US Commendation Medals, NASA Medals are not “national” awards from the USA, they are awarded by a government agency – they have a total of 16 awards for NASA alone.

What a strange situation to have the Governor General violating the rules she is supposed to uphold. It's a bit sad she thinks NASA Medals are more important than the Order of Canada, the Order of Military Merit or any other part of the Canadian honours system. Its all a bit more than just wearing the "wrong decoration" its in essence wearing an illegal pair of medals... but we wouldn't want to be accused of being fussbudgets. It is after all just the Governor General breaking a regulation set out by an Order-in-Council. 


  1. When the stipulation reads "which is approved by the government of Canada" she is de facto the government. By wearing the medals she is approving them. It is like the president disclosing classified information--he can't by definition anything he discloses is automatically declassified.

  2. Well, first off the GG is not the Queen, so you are incorrect. Furthermore we have this thing in Canada called “responsible government” which means that the policy decisions, including those related to honours policy, can only be made at the direction of the duly elected government as represented by the Prime Minister. So the PM has to agree to honours policy changes. These get published in the Canada Gazette and then on the GG’s website. Notably there has been no change to Canadian honours policy to change the rules and allow for the wearing of NASA Medals. Payette is wilfully breaking the rules — and this has been reported in the National Post and other outlets. Even the GG can’t just invent the rules!