Royal Canadian Legion expels B.C. member for wearing unearned military commendations

‘Stolen valour is stolen service and it’s just totally wrong’

The Royal Canadian Legion says it has taken a landmark decision to expel two members for wearing military commendations they did not earn as the 95-year-old veterans’ organization crack downs on instances of “stolen valour.”

Legion dominion president Thomas Irvine would not identify the two members in an interview with The Canadian Press this week, except to say that one is from Ontario and the other from B.C. Each was given an opportunity to explain their actions before being expelled.

“The Legion has taken a big hit over the years on different cases of stolen valour, and justly so,” Irvine said of past criticisms the organization was not doing enough to curb such behaviour by members. “But I’m tired of it. We’ve got to put a stop to this.”

The wearing of unearned military medals and commendations has long been a sore point for serving military members and veterans. It is also an offence under the Criminal Code, with a maximum penalty of up to six months in jail and a $5,000 fine.

Police in Cornwall, Ont., last year charged a man, Terrance Birch, with wearing military medals he did not earn. He appeared in court in December and is due to re-appear for pre-trial motions on Feb. 5. Attempts to contact Birch were unsuccessful.

Not only do those who make illegitimate claims of military service or sacrifice degrade the honour of those who have served, Irvine said, they also tarnish the reputation of the Legion if they are members of the organization.

ALSO READ: B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

“Stolen valour is stolen service and it’s just totally wrong,” said Irvine, who was a military reservist for 23 years, including a peacekeeping tour in the Middle East. ”This kind of stuff has to stop within the legion, it’s got to stop, period, within Canada. It’s against the law.”

That is why he personally pushed for new bylaws and direction to punish those found to have claimed service or commendations falsely, Irvine said, which includes automatically expelling for life any members convicted under the Criminal Code of unlawfully wearing a military uniform or medal.

Stolen Valour Canada, an online group that uses social media to call attention to people alleged to have worn military medals and commendations they did not earn, applauded the legion’s decision to expel the two members and crack down on similar incidents.

“We remember the blood, sweat and tears that it took to earn a piece of metal attached to coloured ribbon, a strip of cloth or an embroidered badge, and that is why we get somewhat emotional about them,” Stolen Valour Canada said in an unsigned email.

“It’s really quite simple, if you didn’t earn it, don’t wear it.”

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Royal Canadian Legion

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Two-vehicle crash in Langford sends one to hospital Monday morning

Driver sent to hospital with unspecified injuries

Recent arrests skim surface of Victoria’s human trafficking problem

Port city makes desirable place for traffickers flying under the radar

Victoria Canadian Forces member honored with exceptional Rotary Club award

Capt. Jacqueline Zweng is the Western Canada Ambassador of Wounded Warriors Canada

Oak Bay athletes rule the slopes at Island ski and snowboard series

Oak Bay boys take top ski, snowboard honours

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

Most Read