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.

Monday, July 26, 2021

The Rt. Hon. Mary Simon: An INAUSPICIOUS start

Seven months after bidding farewell to the worst Governor General, and one of the biggest medal offenders in Canadian History (wearing unrecognized NASA Medals, and the Order of Canada and other honours as jewellery) we have a new Governor General installed. The seven months with the Chief Justice, Richard Wagner, as Chief Administrator of the Government, was marked by not one single medals offence. Wonderful work!
Richard Wagner: A model "almost GG"

Now we have the installation of Ms. Mary Simon (formerly OC, OQ and some Jubilee Medals), who is now a Companion of the Order of Canada (CC), Commander of the Order of Military Merit (CMM) and Commander of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces (COM), and Her Excellency, has decided to just freelance on the wearing of medals. Oh it is so sad to see the new Governor General disobeying the rules, rules which she is supposed to uphold. Following the ignominious example of Julie Payette at her installation in 2017, she has opted to just wear her Order of Canada and not her commemorative medals. We are off to an inauspicious start. Starting her tenure breaking the medal wearing rules means either she has followed the Payette route and hired a bunch of friends to advise her, there is no one left at Rideau Hall to advise a Governor General, or after three years of constant mental beatings by Julie Payette, the advisors have all lost their ability to advise OR most worryingly, that the new Governor General just doesn't care.

So what was she doing wrong? Well we are delighted that she is wearing her CC on a bow, but where are her commemorative medals -- those humble little gongs that several hundred thousand Canadians have earned since Canada 125 in 1992? Given how long Her Excellency has been in the Order of Canada she should at least have the Golden Jubilee Medal 2002, and Diamond Jubilee Medal 2012? For more than 300k a year you think you would be able to at least pay attention to these sorts of details. 

Payette and her benefactor Justin Trudeau, 2017
Not wearing her commemorative medals,
just like Ms. Simon on installation day 2021
First day on the job, Mary Simon already breaking the rules

Is it such a big thing to ask that a Governor General wear their orders, decorations and medals correctly? There are lots of good current examples of people weaning them correctly. Take for instances, the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan, The Hon. Russell Mirasty, SOM, MSM. He gets how to wear his medals correctly, why can't the Governor General?
A model medal wearer:
Lieutenant Governor of Saskatcewan Russell Mirasty

We can only hope that such media luminaries as Colby Cosh, who referenced our blog in an article in the  January 22, 2021 National Post, is paying attention to the "protocol nerds" (his phrase), who are flagging yet another potential rule ignoring Head of State. 

Now that we have a Governor General, even if she did wear her medals wrong on her big day, we can hope she will correct the offence. We can also hope she will get to work and promptly strip Julie Payette of the undeserved honours of the Order of Canada, Order of Military Merit and Order of Merit of the Police Forces. The sooner we can forget all that happened between October 2017 and January 2021 the better. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Bye Bye Offender-in-Chief, Julie Payette: Time to hand back your CC, CMM, COM and CD

The departure of Julie Payette as Canada's Governor General and Commander-in-Chief has brought relief to many of us here at Wearing Your Medals Wrong. Her Former Not So EXCELLENcy's approach to wearing Canadian orders, decorations and medals was on par with what the media has exposed as her alleged treatment of staff, volunteers, colleagues, the RCMP protective detail and practically everyone she came into contact with.

Way back in September 2018 we noted that Payette had been parading around Rideau Hall, in front of a group of protocol, medals and heraldry experts, wearing totally unauthorized NASA gum ball machine prizes... errr, we mean "I went to space and didn't die" medals. 

It was with great glee that we note that Colby Cosh of the National Post even picked up on this blog's tracking of Payette's great NASA medal wearing debacle on January 22 in "The Cult of Celebrity has no place in the governor general's office."

Cosh amusingly, but accurately notes; 
"in one of the under appreciated low points of her tenure, to wear her more subtle NASA decorations, eschewing the governor general's Canadian insignia in favour of corporate awards from a U.S. government agency. It was mostly protocol nerds and monarchists who foamed at the mount over that one, but in retrospect I defy anyone to say they didn't have a point -- and it ought to have been noticed earlier..." 

Thank you for this Mr. Cosh. As a group of protocol nerds we appreciate this recognition. Like you we hope the next Governor General will not be a complete and unmitigated Challenger (OV-099) like disaster. 


We can only hope that the Advisory Councils of the various Orders for which Mme. Payette once served as Chancellor (the Order of Canada, The Order of Military Merit and the Order of Merit of the Police Forces), will cancel/erase her appointment to some of our country's highest honours. There is no question that Payette has brought disrepute upon these Orders in a more public manner than any previous holder of a CC, CMM or COM. Payette should be removed from the three Orders, be required to return her Canadian Force's Decoration and also hand in her Order national du Québec. We can also hope that she will be stripped of the style "Right Honourable" and lastly her coat of arms should be erased, defaced or dis-honoured in some obvious manner. For her Rideau Hall portrait we suggest any number of the hilarious cartoons which her actions have generated from the talented pens of Canada's editorial cartoonists. 

Perhaps there is no more visual way to acknowledge Mme. Payette's disgrace then by fiddling with her coat of arms. A search of the internet (none of us are experts on heraldry although we have some followers who are), reveals that we just have to turn Payette's coat of arms upside down (an Abatement) to show she has behaved in a highly dishonourable way. 

We have gone further and  removed Payette's Order of Canada and Ordre national du Québec medals, along with the motto of the Order of Canada. The grey circle around Payette's shield represents the grey and sadness that she brought to Rideau Hall and the grey state of mental health she left so many of the staff in. This greyness totally encircles Payette's shield. The Crown was also removed, if there were any maple leaves in her arms we would have removed those as well.

This is a very obvious visual way of showing how awful Payette was in every aspect of her service as Governor General, treatment of staff and Canadians. 

Another option is to rewrite the symbolism of her arms, if only that Privy Council Office report didn't contain so many words, we might be able to include direct commentary in the augmented "ignominious Payette arms."

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Governor General Payette Doesn't Care About the Rules... or the Canadian Armed Forces

It is unfortunate that our Commander-in-Chief thinks that the lowly Canadian Forces Decoration (the C.D.), which rank and file members of the Canadian Armed Forces earn and wear with pride, is not worthy of being worn for an important national event like the Speech from the Throne. Does Her Excellency not like the red and white ribbon in the colour of our national flag or the gold coloured multi-sided disc? Why has the poor C.D., been relegated to a sock drawer at Rideau Hall for today's ceremony? 
The Canadian Forces Decoration
Good enough for members of the Canadian Armed Forces
but not good enough for
Julie Payette, CC, CMM, COM, CQ, CD.

In advance of today's event in Ottawa we received more than thirty emails speculating on just what newfangled manner Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, would find to wear her gongs... well she has opted for a rather lazy approach, one that is disrespectful to members of the Canadian Armed Forces. Her Excellency has adopted the "jewellery method" of wearing medals. The Jewellery Method demands that you simply "wear whatever looks nice," as opposed to following the rules so clearly defined by the Office of the Governor General.

Governor General Payette & her first speech from the throne,
medals all wrong again. It's clear she just doesn't care about the rules. 
For today's event, December 5, we see the Governor General wearing the insignia of Companion of the Order of Canada (C.C.) and Chevalier of the Ordre National du Quebec (C.Q), ... but what about her actual group of medals, with the 2012 Jubilee Medal and Canadian Forces Decoration? Obviously a provincial honour is more important to our Commander-in-Chief than serving as the head of the Canadian Armed Forces. Had she simply worn her medal group all would have been fine. She just needed to put her medal group where she has her Ordre of Quebec bow. The ultimate offence is that she places more importance on her C.Q., than she does on displaying her role as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. 

Exceedingly rare photo!Governor General Payette in a rare moment of
almost following the rules.

As readers, and anyone in the CAF will know, the Canadian Forces Decoration (C.D.) is awarded to members of the Canadian Armed Forces after 12 years of service (12 years of undetected crime as it is often put jokingly). The Governor General gets this medal when they are appointed as Governor General to signify that they also serve as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces. 

To the right above we have an exceedingly rare photo showing Governor General Payette wearing her medals ALMOST correctly. She just needed to shorten her Order of Canada ribbon and all would have been fine (or put her C.C. on a bow). Is it really too much someone who gets two free houses, staff, travel and more than $300,000 a year to follow the rules that her office is suppose to uphold and regulate? 

Despite this snub to the CAF it could have been worse. The Governor General could have decided to wear  her NASA Medals! 

Surprisingly few Remembrance Day 2019 offences reported, so no posting was required this year.

Friday, August 2, 2019

When everybody’s somebody, nobody’s anybody! D-Day 75th and the brass hats

We made it through the various D-Day commemorations without Governor General Julie Payette showing up wearing her NASA Medals or breaking any medals wearing rules which is a relief.
Canada's two highest ranking medals wearing offenders. The Governor General Julie Payette -- known for wearing totally unauthorized Space Trip Medals from NASA, and Honorary LGen Richard Rohmer, who loves to wear every pin and bauble in his sock drawer -- even unauthorized ones. 
That being said, we had a flood of emails asking about the sash being worn by Honorary Lieutenant General Richard Rohmer, who has been featured on this blog several times before. As we have noted in the past, we have great respect for the Honorary Lieutenant General’s valorious service in the Second World War and his contributions to Canada over his long and highly accomplished lifetime. 

What we take issue is with his penchant for wearing his medals incorrectly – and wearing unauthorized medals. An officer, gentleman and an one of Her Majesty’s Counsel Most Learned in the Law (he is a lawyer and a Queen’s Counsellor) one would assume that Rohmer would know that even he has to follow the rules and regulations set out by the Government of Canada as managed by the Governor General’s Office. No sadly he does not, so during the 75thanniversary of the D-Day landings the CBC and other networks were full of images of Honorary Lieutenant General Rohmer parading around wearing a mystery sash, too many neck gongs, at least one unauthorized/ unrecognized medal and some weird looking pin with a trillium on it.

First let us address the mystery red sash. What is it? Has Rohmer been made a Grand Cross of the Legion d’Honneur or a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath or a Knight Grand Commander of the New Zealand Order of Merit– it is none of these as they are worn over the right shoulder and not the left. A search of the Canada Gazette, where all authorized foreign decorations and orders are listed when they are properly awarded to Canadians, fails to reveal that Rohmer has been awarded anything new. Could it be that as an honorary Lieutenant General, Rohmer has decided that he can wear an CAF Infantry Sash over the left shoulder given his years of service in the CAF? 

Now let us examine Rohmer’s impressive group of mounted medals.
Rohmer's mounted group of medals.
Right beside his St. John Ambulance Long Service Medal (black and white ribbon with 3 bars), there is a blue ribbon with a yellow stripe – it looks much like the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Long Service Medal – yet Rohmer never earned the RCMP LSM, so it is not that. A search of Rohmer’s Wikipedia page reveals it could be the United States Navy Distinguished Marksman Ribbon which he earned long ago, but that award doesn’t come with a medal. So it must be the Toronto Emergency Medical Services Long Service Medal. Totally unauthorized for wear along with officially granted federal and provincial honours, this lustrous medal is struck in high quality aluminum foil and dipped in clear nail polish to give it an impressive shine. 
The Toronto EMS Long Service Medal 

Of course the wearing of this medal along with officially granted federal and provincial medals is a violation of Order-in-Council 1998-591; but hey, Rohmer is already breaking a host of rules (only two neck badges are to be worn in RCAF DEU) covered in A-AD 265 Canadian Armed Forces Dress Instructions, that everyone else is supposed to follow if they are wearing a CAF uniform, but it seems having a load of gongs and a heavy brass hat means you are immune from the rules or a watchful RSM or even our  Chief of Defence Staff.

Then there is the badge on the pocket that Rohmer is wearing above his Order of St. John breast star. There is the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation, and RCAF Ops Wings which are all legitimate and authorized, and then the mystery oval pin. 
It looks like some sort of Ontario awards with a white trillium – 75 years of safe driving of a motor vehicle? 75 years of residency in Ontario? The award for not picking trilliums in Ontario? Just what is this mystery badge? 

All this is written fully expecting a number of irate emails from readers chastising us for DARING to question such a notable and well regarded veteran. Well even the highly accomplished and high ranking are open for criticism if they break the rules the rest of the Canadian public are supposed to follow. 

This is all best left to Rohmer himself. In a January 2019 article carried in Zoomer 
Magazine. Rohmer notes “I’m the most highly decorated citizen in the country. It takes me 20 minutes to put the medals and decorations on.” Well aside from the grandness of the statement (one would never expect to hear the great Canadian exemplar of medal wearing, Major General George Pearkes, VC, PC, CC, CB, DSO, KStJ, MC, CD, CdeG, to utter such a phrase), I think you get the general idea (pardon the pun) that the General knows exactly what he is doing when he puts on a uniform – be it is RCAF, Ontario Provincial Police or Toronto EMS uniforms. 

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Without Further Comment; Daniel Woolf

A few readers sent us this photo of the now former President of Queen's University, Dr. Daniel Woolf, wearing what appears to be the United Nations Korea War Medal. Given that Dr. Woolf's biography states he was born in 1958, we are not quite sure how he managed to serve in the Korean War with US or Commonwealth troops. 
UN Korea War Medal
Woolf all dressed up with Arthur McDonald, a Companion of the Order of Canada, who also received the Nobel Prize;  it is a bizarre image. This photo was taken in December 2015 with Professor McDonald was presented with his Nobel Prize. 

One can only imagine what the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, who knows a thing or two about medals, thought of the Canadian university administrator parading around with a lone medal he could not have possibly earned. Not exactly an effective way of looking "important" in a auditorium filled with a few Heads of State and some of the most highly honoured/decorated people in the world. Perhaps a university scarf of jersey would have been a more effective way of announcing the crowd "look at me, I'm important too." 

You really shouldn't wear medals you didn't earn, even if you're putting them on the right hand side of your jacket. 

ViceRegal Report Card 2018

This report is a bit late, but it will certainly be of interest to our loyal readers. It is that time once again to grade the various professional medal wearers; the Governor General and the Lieutenant Governors from across Canada. We won't look too deeply into the sad situation of the Governor General here. On the whole the Lieutenant Governors are doing a solid job of wearing their medals correctly. 

Off to the Magic Show?
The Lieutenant Governor of Alberta,
the Hon. Lois Mitchell.
The main offender in the provinces is Alberta's Lois Mitchell who seems to enjoy wearing all sorts of different capes! Rule number one of wearing robes/capes/mantles, you don't pin medals on them and you don't wear mayoral or Order chains over top of them -- unless you want to look really really strange and desperate to appear more important than you are. You also don't wear multiple Orders on bows. Where is a slightly knowledgeable ADC or RSM when you need one?

As we saw in a previous post Alberta really does seem to be the "wild west" of wearing medals and wearing all sorts of fake municipal and provincial medals.

The new Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Tom Molloy, is a quick study and after his installation seems to have corrected the "olympic medal" style of wearing his neck gongs. Great improvement here. 
Lieutenant Governor Molloy at his Installation.
OC worn "Olympic Style"

Lieutenant Governor Molloy wearing his SOM and insignia correctly.
Our most improved student. 
Similarly the news Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Janet Austin is doing a great job wearing her medals -- not sure what the deal is with the Presidential salute though! Of course there remain a few outliers -- the LG of Prince Edward Island doesn't seem to wear medals at all. 
The Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Great at wearing medals.
But... what's with the Presidential Salute? 
This is the most solid report card we have had since we started this blog in 2010 in an effort to combat the habitual rule breakers. 

With Bob Paulson gone as Commissioner of the RCMP the wearing of unapproved/fake medals (aside from the Governor General according to media reports) has come to a end for the time being at the top of Canada's national police force. 

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.