By Susan Sherring, Ottawa Sun
The general public was not far behind with their condemnation of anyone who might pretend to be a member of the military.
On Remembrance Day, CBC reporter Diana Swain interviewed a man who was wearing the uniform of a senior non-commissioned officer in the Royal Canadian Regiment and who identified himself as Franck Gervais.
“For me, it’s really important to remember that people have fought for our freedom. They didn’t fight for themselves,” the man said to CBC.
But on Tuesday, the story began to unravel on social media.
After looking in to the matter, the CBC issued a statement:
“During CBC’s extensive coverage of Remembrance Day commemorations in Ottawa, we interviewed many veterans and serving members of the Canadian Forces. These included one man who had been standing among a group of uniformed personnel. To civilian eyes, he appeared to be an authentic soldier. We have since learned that he was not, that his uniform was not correct, and that he was wearing medals he had not earned.
“All this was drawn to our attention by veterans and serving members, who were understandably angry at seeing this counterfeit soldier. We regret this, and are following up to learn more about the man,” the statement read.
And this from the Department of National Defence:
“The Canadian Armed Forces have no indication that Mr. Franck Gervais is a member of the military,” Daniel Lebouthillier told the Sun in an e-mail.
“Falsely impersonating a Canadian Armed Forces member is an issue to be taken seriously and is covered under section 419 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
“Such activities are a disservice to the proud men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces, who earn the right to wear their uniforms through their hard work and the sacrifices they make for our country.”
It’s no wonder the military and the general public would react so negatively and so vehemently to this type of imposter.
Especially during a time when wearing a uniform can make you both a target for violence and the subject of adulation, with the general public so incredibly thankful for all the military does to keep us safe.
And frankly, for reasons that are hard to verbalize, to do so on Remembrance Day — a day we have heavy hearts for those who have fallen and those who could — to pretend to be of that same ilk, well, honestly, words fail.
“The issue was brought to light by Warrant Officer Michael Womack, who saw the CBC interview on Remembrance Day and felt something didn’t sit right, there were just too many discrepancies with what this man was wearing.
Womack put the word out on social media and was deluged with angry responses from both those in the military and the general public.
One of those to respond was Greg Collette, a retired member of The Royal Canadian Regiment.
“You can see this phony has been at it for some time now. There are so many things wrong with his uniform it is hard to believe that no one has caught him before yesterday. Gleaming problems: First, the Van Dyke facial hair, a clear violation of military regulations. Second the red sash he is wearing over his shoulder is for infantry members only. His cap badge in these photos has him other than infantry. Even more gleaming is he is wearing the sash over the wrong shoulder. Lastly, the third major problem is that he is wearing his sash over the wrong shoulder because he is wearing a braided lanyard over his shoulder that is only for officers who are conducting an Aid De Camp for a more senior officer,” Collette told the Sun in an e-mail. “Enough is enough!”
As of late last night, the Ottawa Police said they were not investigating the matter.
The Sun’s efforts to reach Gervais for comment were not successful. Reached by the CBC, his wife declined to comment.