Franck Gervais, who spoke with CBC on Remembrance Day wearing a uniform and medals, has been charged by Ottawa police. (CBC)
Ottawa police charged Franck Gervais Saturday for impersonating a decorated soldier during a Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Gervais, 32, is not a member of the Canadian Forces and faces two charges of personating a public officer, one charge of unlawful use of military uniforms and one charge of unlawful use of military decoration.
After seeing Gervais speaking as a “sergeant” on television, a number of veterans and soldiers called CBC News to question his status as a soldier.
It is an offence for someone who is not serving in the military to wear a current military uniform.
“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,” a spokesperson for the Defence Department said in an emailed statement earlier this week.
“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.”
Gervais is from Cantley, Quebec. He was arrested in Ottawa on Saturday, charged and released. He is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 9. The investigation remains ongoing.
The CBC issued a statement Wednesday about the event: “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,” the statement said.
“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.”
CBC News asked Jake Flanders of the Airborne Regiment Association of Canada to review the tape from Tuesday’s interview.
Flanders said a number of “red flags” jumped out at him, such as Gervais’s facial hair, the red sash he wore across his uniform and his maroon beret.
“The red flags are, first off, his facial hair. In the military, you’re not allowed to have a beard like that.”
Flanders said that for someone claiming to be a “sergeant,” Gervais wore his red sash the wrong way, while the maroon beret he wore is traditionally reserved for soldiers serving in parachute units.
“I can tell you that all sorts of people, ex-airborne people and military jumpers, were all over Facebook saying, ‘Does anybody know this guy?’ And there are just too many… symbols that he’s faking it.
“But the thing that really irks me about him is he has a medal for bravery on,” Flanders said.
“It’s all wrong.”
Get more stuff like this
Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.