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William Elliott deserves to wear the RCMP uniform

July 2007
The appointment of William Elliott is definitely a contentious issue. Even more contentious is the idea of whether he should wear the RCMP uniform. Critics say that Elliott has not ‘earned’ the right to wear the uniform, but I would argue that his position ‘entitles’ him to do so and he is hardly the first one to be given such an honour.

Former Ontario Lieutenant Governor Lincoln Alexander is the Honorary Commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police and as such, is entitled to wear an O.P.P. uniform. However, he hardly walks around pretending to be a cop at official functions.

Comedian Rick Mercer currently serves as the Honorary Colonel of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which means he is entitled to wear the uniform of the Canadian Forces. Former Barrie Mayor Janice Laking served as the Honorary Colonel of 16 Wing Borden from 1997 – 2006 and Conrad Black once served as the Honorary Colonel of the Governor-General�s Foot Guards in Ottawa. None have ever served in the Canadian Forces.

Granted these are honorary positions but the precedent has already been set.

The Governor-General, as Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Forces is entitled to wear the Canadian Forces Decoration on appointment, a medal that is normally awarded to Canadian Forces members after 12 years service. The Governor-General doesn’t ‘earn’ the medal, but is ‘entitled’ to wear it.

Given his position as RCMP Commissioner, I think it is appropriate for Elliott to wear the uniform at official RCMP or other police functions, but nothing more. Like it or not, he has ‘earned’ the right to do so.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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