Thursday, August 16, 2012

Turning the military clock back to its proper time

Now that a full year has passed since the federal government boldly returned the main branches of the armed forces to their pre-1968 designations – the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force – a decision that delighted and perplexed many, and appalled some as a retrograde step, an annum of perspective would perhaps be a timely and welcome thing.

Certainly the unexpected announcement attracted a considerable amount of media attention and debate, and even ignited a few spasms during a traditionally slow news month. Although the restoration was supported by a solid majority of Canadians across all spectra, including a majority of federalist Quebeckers, the shrieks and howls emanating from some quarters lambasting the move, did cause a disproportionate stir.

For example, opposition defence critic Jack Harris was adamant that the royal name change should be avoided because it would be divisive to the country, a fear that fortunately never materialized. Military historian Jack Granatstein, for his part, disparaged the restoration as “abject colonialism”, which seemed an oddly irrelevant apprehension to hold in contemporary and fully independent Canada. There were a few others, but it was the exquisite irony of former defence minister Paul Hellyer’s criticism that the reinstatement would prove a “monumental blunder of historic proportions”, and one that will have “inevitably costly consequences”, that requires a little further elaboration to properly dispel.

Mr. Hellyer – surely the most transformative defence minister in Canadian history – was understandably upset that his unification legacy had been – at least symbolically – overturned. After all, it was his single-minded audacity in the 1960s that pushed through the most revolutionary change in the armed forces of any developed country in the last century, effectively abolishing the navy, army and air force and forming a new single service, the unified Canadian Armed Forces.

Economically the merger was a massive reorganization exercise intended to amalgamate the functions of the military, reduce triplication and create integrated efficiencies – an ostensibly worthy goal in and of itself. What occurred in 1968, however, went far beyond an economic initiative. It was also a regrettable assault on the very identities of the navy, army and air force; their ranks, uniforms, history, traditions, titles. For a country that had always moved cautiously in reforming its institutions, and that had in the previous fifty years fought two world wars and Korea, the shock of this caused enormous pain to over a million Canadian veterans as well as to most of all ranks who were serving at the time. Unification struck at the very heart of esprit-de-corps.

The self-defeating effort to disenfranchise our sailors, soldiers and air personnel from their traditional loyalties and hard won distinctions – especially the navy, the most embattled and deeply wounded of the three – was politically motivated by a determined desire to “cleanse the forces of their Britishness”, what C.P. Champion, author of The Strange Demise of British Canada, calls “the neo-nationalist attack on [Canada’s] military tradition”. Given the ubiquity of that heritage, Mr. Hellyer was of the mind that the most efficient way to “Canadianize” the services was to scuttle them in one dramatic blow. The proud RCN and RCAF had to go; our sailors and airmen were chastened into the unification straightjacket, and ludicrously forced to don rifle green outfits and adopt army ranks. If the amorphous, brave new Canadian Armed Forces was an impossible vehicle to rally morale, the troops would have to make do with bland bureaucratic distinctions like “Maritime Command” and “Air Command” or even “Land Force Command”. The whole reinvented apparatus was, at root, an uninspiring concoction, and therein laid its eventual fate.

Some vital traditions in fact were restored before they were even abandoned. In time, nearly all would be organically returned as the unification conformists gradually ceded to reality under successive governments. With the long overdue restoration of Canada’s battle-tried titles, our armed forces can proudly reclaim their inheritance. The reestablishment of these historic identities, as defence minister Peter MacKay announced one year ago today, “is an important way of reconnecting today’s men and women in uniform with the proud history and traditions they carry with them”, which will “once again serve as a timeless link between our veterans and serving soldiers, sailors and air personnel.”

The Hon. Paul Hellyer can rest easy in the knowledge that the perfectly sensible parts of his legacy remain firmly intact, and that thanks to his historic efforts the rebranded Canadian Forces continue to be one of the most functionally integrated militaries in the world today. But it was a bridge too far, and the country could have done without the temporary defacement of its naval and military heritage. The natural process of “Canadianization” was, after all, inevitable.

Indeed, the recovery of that heritage is a happy occasion, and one that Canadians rightly support and respect. The names and deeds of the RCN, RCAF and the regiments and corps of the Canadian Army are deepened in loyal and devoted service and distinctly forged in battle. They deserve all the honours that have been bestowed upon them. Glottal stops, notwithstanding.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Thank You and Good-Bye

A number of military publications have asked for our story on the successful campaign to bring back the RCN and RCAF. This is what we wrote.

With the suppression in 1968 of the RCN and RCAF a significant part of Canada's military heritage was lost. Now, forty-three years later, the historic identities of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force have been restored to the Canadian Forces.

Our campaign to restore the "Royal Honours" began in 2007 by making optimal use of the tools available to us. There was an online petition, a website, a blog and the use of promotional and patriotic videos. We eventually gained access to thousands of comments and email addresses from signatories of the petition that were especially used to maximum effect during key moments of the campaign.

A reconnaissance of the matter revealed the certain minefields that lay before us: the emotional hot-button issue of 'unification', the symbolism of the prefix 'Royal', the invariable canard over 'cost' and 'effort', political and cultural biases, and even the monarchy itself. It was important for us to avoid these distractions and remain focused on the task before us: to convince the government of the virtue of restoring the Royal titles within the existing unified command of the Canadian Forces.

Not unexpectedly, we encountered some stiff resistance. When MP Laurie Hawn agreed to sponsor our petition in 2007, researchers in the Library of Parliament wrote that it would take mountains of paperwork, require royal proclamations and up to 67 statutory amendments to enact. While we were prepared to move Heaven and Earth, this torrent of misinformation was a setback that did somewhat delay our progress.

Fortunately, in due course, we received the opinion of Dr. Christopher McCreery, an authority in the matter of 'Titles and Honours', who confirmed that the RCN and RCAF were never actually abolished, that they indeed still subsisted as merged entities within the CF, and that the Minister of National Defence could simply resume usage of the titles by virtue of the executive authority already available to him.

We had thought that the then-upcoming Canadian Naval Centennial would be the catalyst to 'Give the Navy its name back!' as Senator Joseph Day so passionately argued in the media, but head of the navy Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden's 'don't rock the boat' message sent a negative chill throughout the navy that spilled over into the Naval Officers Association whose support we thought critical. Although we were perplexed by Adm. McFadden's lack of enthusiasm for our project, he may have foreseen that the restoration of our military and naval heritage and the symbolism of monarchy were mutually reinforcing in a potentially powerful way, and that the navy may not be immune to possible divisions emanating from certain quarters of the country. The admiral had 'bigger fish to fry'.

Things were moving rather slowly until, incredibly, in October 2010, a motion by Senator Bill Rompkey to change the universally unloved 'Maritime Command' to (not the Royal) 'Canadian Navy' made it onto the floor of the Senate. When the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence chose to hold hearings on the matter, we knew that things had finally come to a head. It was then that we were called by the Prime Minister's Office.

We learned that PM Harper was sympathetic to the restoration (initially this only concerned the Navy though it only made sense that the Air Force would be included as well), but that the government would remain neutral while the matter was being deliberated in the Senate. We were advised that although the petition was informative, it was imperative to demonstrate the support of most, if not all, veteran groups and ex-service associations, as a necessary precondition to government action. We were also encouraged to keep the MND and the PMO abreast of our progress.

The Senate hearings proceeded, albeit with an apparent bias in favour of 'Canadian Navy', even though most senators on the committee, led by Senators Day, Plett and Manning, argued in support of the navy's traditional designation. When we blitzed the Senate Committee with what the Chair, Sen. Pamela Wallin termed our 'orchestrated email campaign', it was to ensure that the senators were aware of the names of the thousands who had signed the petition; especially after one retired admiral testified that he had not met a single person who wanted a return to the RCN!

Over the next eight months, a collaborative relationship with the PMO developed which, while not a guarantee of success, gave us a growing confidence that culminated on December 14th, 2010, when the Senate unanimously passed a revised motion encouraging the government to adopt a title with the word 'Navy' in it. We sensed victory. The prospect of the "Royal Canadian Navy" would live to fight another day.

The imperative to win further support from stakeholder groups did, however, seem to present a rather daunting challenge. Although we undoubtedly had the overwhelming favour of veterans at the grassroots level, we were disappointed that the national executives of the Naval Officers Association, the Air Force Association and even the Royal Canadian Legion were all initially opposed, arguing that the government would not be able to defend either the effort or the cost.

Not confident that they were speaking on behalf of their membership, we communicated directly with individual branches and organisations across the country, with very positive results. This included literally dozens of associations, most especially the National Council of Veteran Associations, an umbrella organization representing 58 distinct veteran groups all led by Canada's beloved 'Mr. Veteran', Cliff Chadderton. These results would make the government sufficiently comfortable, but the effort to maximize stakeholder support would continue until the eve of the Minister's historic announcement made from HMC Dockyard Halifax on 16 August 2011.

We are enormously gratified that our campaign was successful, for our deserving veterans and those retired and serving members of the forces who have long dreamed of this day. That a solid majority of Canadians, across all spectra, support the restoration is tremendously satisfying.

May the RCN and RCAF remain impregnable fortresses from this day forward, whatever the tint of future governments - and may the pride of our military men and women be well served because of it.

Michael J. Smith is a graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada and a former naval officer. Gregory Benton is a past Regimental Chaplain of the Royal Regiment of Canada.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

'We are grateful he lived long enough to see the RCAF reinstated'


We are deeply gratified to have received this notice from the Air Force Association, courtesy of Dan Rawlyck Capt (Ret'd), announcing the passing of Wing Commander "Duke" Warren DFC, CDE, RCAF.

In his message, Mr. Rawlyck notes:

'you can see that the family specifically mentions that
they were glad that he lived long enough to see the
RCAF reinstated. I think this is one of the things that
comes to mind when the MND stated that the costs of
restoring the "Royal" titles would be minimal - but the
benefits would be priceless!

We offer a salute and extend our sympathy to Duke Warren's family.
May he rest in peace and continue to be an inspiration to all the pilots
of the RCAF.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Resounding Success

To the individual who criticized that six thousand signatures "is hardly a resounding success", we are clearly vindicated today with the news that a solid majority of Canadians support the government's move to restore the traditional titles, Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

In fact millions support the resumption of these magnificent titles, which resonate across the generations and across party lines. Even a strong majority of federalist Quebeckers support the historic designations.

Across Canada, 56 per cent agree with the move. Only 11 per cent are strongly opposed, which means that the potential for critics of this decision to whip up a backlash is small. At the other end of the scale, 18 per cent strongly support the decision. In other words the government found a pretty low-cost way to make almost one in five voters feel pretty good.

It’s not surprising this decision is popular with Conservative voters, who approve by a 72 per cent to 20 per cent margin. More interesting is that this is not an idea that works only with older voters: younger people support this decision in virtually equal numbers.

While there’s predictably more pushback in Quebec, still 41 per cent of voters in that province like this decision. That's easily twice as many as have been thinking about voting Conservative.

Roughly half of Liberal and NDP voters support the move. For leaders of those parties, it puts fighting this decision squarely in the pile of ideas labeled: “Worth the trouble?”

Thursday, August 25, 2011

We are immensely grateful and extremely flattered by your kind and generous praise

And I do mean we -- for Padre Gregory Benton, a former chaplain with the Royal Regiment of Canada, deserves equal credit for this victory, yet has received precious little recognition for his efforts. If I was the public face, he toiled in private as chief strategist, as film producer, as architect of He wrote the words "Why We Are Here", he produced 'Royal Canadians', 'Voices' and 'The Honour Restored'. He cashed in his chits to recruit such eminents as Bob Dale and Astronaut Chris Hadfield. He wrote to our beloved 'Mr. Veteran', Cliff Chadderton, etc. He deserves enormous credit, and for any praise I received personally, I share with him equally and openly. Unfortunately, as a result of a serious illness, he was unable to attend the event with me in Halifax. Please know that both of us are humbled in this triumph by the hundreds of letters received from you in the days since the announcement, a small snapshot of which we include below:

I want to salute two individuals who were able to join us here this morning. Michael Smith, a retired sailor, spearheaded a campaign to restore the royal designations that gained the support of thousands of Canadians. And Senator Joe Day, himself a former member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, has been vocal in his support for this measure. Thank you both for your efforts and presence here today.

- The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence

Hi Michael: A hearty well done to you and Gregory and others for not giving up. Ready Aye Ready! Per Adua Ad Astra!

- MP Laurie Hawn, Wing Commander (Ret'd) and former Associate Minister of National Defence and early sponsor of our campaign. Laurie Hawn was the first Canadian qualified to fly CF-18s

Michael: A great day. You should be very proud of your role in restoring a critical element of our identity. BZ!

- Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy

Congratulations and good wishes to Michael Smith the founder and moving spirit of "Restore the Honour," which spearheaded the effort culiminating in today's good news. Michael's campaign has been long, arduous and hard-fought. He deserves enormous credit for harnessing opinion favourable to the restoration amongst members of the RCN, veterans, the public and officials in Ottawa.

- Robert Finch, Dominion Chairman, Monarchist League of Canada

Mr. Smith: Thank you.

- John Fraser, Master of Massey College, University of Toronto

Congratulations, Mr. Smith, on your success at returning us to colonial status.

- Jack Granatstein, distinguished military historian, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada

Michael: Congratulations to you. Many heroes are looking down on you and your colleagues as the heroes of this important battle, one that they could not fight directly here on the Earth at this time. But their souls did fight through heroes like you.

- George DeWolf Shaw, nephew and godson of Admiral Harry DeWolf

Dear Mr. Smith, I was delighted to hear of the reinstatement of the proud names of Royal Canadian to the Navy and the Air Force. I served as a Nursing Sister in the Navy and I know of the pride of those who served in the R.C.N. Then I married into a Naval family. Thank you for your tireless effort.

- Dene Mainguy, daughter-in-law to Admiral Rollo Mainguy

When the RCN was abolished the 1.3 million living Canadians whose fathers, grandfathers, uncles,cousins, and brothers served and won the Battle of the Atlantic were disenfranchised. Now they can once again proudly claim this inheritance and pass on to succeeding generations the stories and exploits of the RCN, the RCN(R) and the RCNVR. All Canadians owe a debt of thanks to Michael Smith for his leadership in keeping this item on the agenda for the past number of years.

- John Jay, Chairman of the Canadian Naval Memorial Trust

You have much to be proud of in your own multi-year campaign to see the honour of Her Majesty's Canadian Forces restored. I don't believe it would have come about without your persistence and faith in the final outcome. My own role was a brief bit-part, one I was nonetheless proud to play.

- Dr. Christopher McCreery, Author, Historian and Canadian Authority on "Honours and Titles"

Mr. Smith: I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your leadership in this matter. (As as former Flight Lieutenant Navigator in the RCAF, I am just tickled pink about this change.) As result of your leadership, I used the e-mail address book of our Ottawa Branch of the Monarchist League to send out mass mailings urging our members to support your lead in this matter. On behalf of all of our 360 members, therefore, may I thank you again.

- Allan E. Jones, Chairman Ottawa Branch, Monarchist League of Canada.


- Peter C. Newman, nationally celebrated author and journalist, Honourary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy

Sir, We are most gratified with your leadership and conviction in returning our historic and honoured name to Canada's navy. Bravo Zulu !

- J. Gaylord Kingston, President, Atlantic Chief & Petty Officers Association


- Judge John Maher, Provincial Court of Alberta

Dear Mr. Smith...Tell you the truth, I was myself utterly amazed you pulled it off...God bless you for all you have done!

- David Warren, Columnist for the Ottawa Citizen

Congratulations on your victory. I think it a setback and a retrograde step, and I will continue to encourage Canadians to stand on their own Canadian feet.

- Jeffrey Simpson, Columnist for the Globe and Mail

Congrats on your superb accomplishment. Wouldn't have happened without your initiative, even tho' PM Harper was forecasting the move as far back as 2003, when I was Exec Director of the Air Force Assn. Your endevours made it a reality!

- Bob Tracy, Dodo Bird Club of retired RCAF Flight Sergeants

Michael, Well done.

- Brian Hodgson, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta

You are one of the few intrepid men in history who ever managed to "turn the clock back" to its proper time... A breathtaking achievement, and one that I thought was probably unattainable... May the RCN and RCAF be impregnable fortresses from this day forward, whatever the tint of future governments -- and may your perseverance be long remembered and recognized.

- Stephen Klimczuk, Senior Advisor to A.T. Kearney, Fellow at Oxford University's Saïd Business School and past Director of the World Economic Forum

Dear Michael, Congratulations and well done for all your efforts that have been so successfully fulfilled today by the restoriation of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Admiral Landymore and his colleagues would have been very happy and proud today.

- Gary Toffoli, Executive Director, Canadian Royal Heritage Trust

Dear Mr. Smith: It is my pleasure to extend my respect and admiration for your tireless efforts to restore the historic designations of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army.

- The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Minister's Speech

Speech by the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence: Canada Restores Historic Identities of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force

Halifax, NS
Tuesday 16 August 2011
Please check against delivery

Senator Joe Day,

Lieutenant-General Deschamps,

Vice-Admiral Maddison,

Lieutenant-General Devlin,

Mr. Jerry Sigrist,

Men and women of the Canadian Forces,


Ladies and gentlemen,

Good morning.

It's a pleasure to be here today on what is actually a very significant date in the proud history of Canada's military.

On August 16, 1911, exactly one hundred years ago today, King George V signed a letter granting a Royal Designation to what was then known as the Canadian Naval Service. The Royal Canadian Navy was born.

In the decades that followed, sailors serving out of the historic port of Halifax, and other ports across our country, proudly carried that title, first under the white and blue ensigns, and later under the Canadian flag that we know today.

Through two world wars and in Korea, sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy joined with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army in serving our country with pride and distinction. Many made the ultimate sacrifice while defending these shores.

Behind me is a great symbol of that heritage.

HMCS SACKVILLE escorted Allied convoys across the Atlantic, and attacked enemy submarines during the Second World War. She fought valiantly against a deadly adversary, and is rightfully preserved here in Halifax Harbour.

Not far from here is DeWolf Park - named for the most decorated naval officer in Canadian history, Vice Admiral Harry DeWolf.

Admiral DeWolf captained a number of warships, including the storied HMCS Haida which, in 1943 sank 14 enemy vessels in just over one year.

Such reminders of our proud military history abound across this country. They are lasting and important symbols of the legacy of service by our men and women in uniform. It is a legacy that continues to this very day.

Plus tôt cette année, les membres des Forces canadiennes ont épaulé les autorités de quatre provinces frappées par des feux de forêt et de graves inondations.

Ils mènent des opérations de recherche et de sauvetage pour venir en aide à des Canadiens en détresse, assurant le service dans une région couvrant plusieurs millions de kilomètres carrés.

Ils veillent à protéger notre souveraineté en effectuant des patrouilles de routine et en menant des opérations d'affirmation de la souveraineté, telles que l'opération Nanook qui se déroule en ce moment même dans nos territoires arctiques.

De plus, dans le cadre du NORAD, ils collaborent avec nos alliés américains à la défense de l'Amérique du Nord en surveillant nos approches aériennes et maritimes communes, et en accomplissant des patrouilles aériennes.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I couldn't be more proud of the Canadian Forces and their work around the world.

In Afghanistan, after ten years of combat operations, they are transitioning to the NATO-led training mission that will continue efforts to train Afghan National Security Forces.

In the Mediterranean, our CF-18 fighters, Maritime Patrol Aircraft, aerial refueling craft and HMCS CHARLOTTETOWN - soon to be relieved by HMCS VANCOUVER - are supporting international efforts to protect Libyan civilians by enforcing the no-fly zone and maritime blockade.

And just last week, I announced that three Griffon helicopters and five search and rescue crews based out of CFB Trenton were heading for Jamaica - at the request of the Jamaican government - to assist the Jamaica Defence Force with any emergency situations that might arise over the next few months as a result of the hurricane season.

Ladies and gentlemen, as each of these operations - and each of the fifteen others around the world -demonstrates, the Canadian Forces defending our values, supporting those in need, and helping our friends when they call.

And they do so with great professionalism, with dedication and with courage.

Our soldiers, sailors and air personnel play a fundamental role in defending Canada and Canadian interests...

...and this Government remains committed to supporting and recognizing their incredible work.

That includes preserving the proud traditions and history of the Canadian Forces.

In 1968, the government of the day passed the Canadian Forces Reorganization Act which unified the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force into a single service - the Canadian Forces.

As a result, three formerly separate entities became three elements of a single institution, and were renamed Maritime Command, Land Force Command and Air Command.

Our Conservative Government believes that an important element of Canada's military heritage was lost when the three former services were required to relinquish their historic titles.

Today, I'm honoured to announce that the three elements of the Canadian Forces will have their historic names restored.

Aujourd'hui, je suis très honoré d'annoncer que les trois éléments des Forces canadiennes auront leurs noms historiques reconstitués.

Maritime Command will be the Royal Canadian Navy.

Land Force Command will be the Canadian Army.

And, Air Command will be the Royal Canadian Air Force.

This change is long overdue. Restoring these historic identities is an important way of reconnecting today's men and women in uniform with the proud history and traditions they carry with them as members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

After all, it was under the names of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force that Canadians fought and died in conflicts from the Battle of Britain to the Battle of Kapyong.

And these are the names under which our men and women in uniform contributed to the defence of Europe and North America during the early days of the Cold War.

The historic titles also align Canada with other key Commonwealth countries, whose militaries continue to use the "Royal" designation.

The proud legacy of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army will once again serve as a timeless link between our veterans and serving soldiers, sailors and air personnel.

Equally important, the historic names are the way that many members of the Canadian public still refer to Canada's naval, land and air forces.

I know that in my many visits aboard Canadian Navy ships, to Army bases and to Air Force wings, the men and women of the Canadian Forces did not refer to themselves as belonging to Maritime Command, Land Force Command or Air Command.

I want to thank the thousands of Canadians, among them veterans, serving men and women, and Parliamentarians who have voiced their support for restoring the historic identities to our Canadian Forces.

Among them, I want to salute two individuals who were able to join us here this morning.

Michael Smith, a retired sailor, spearheaded a campaign to restore the royal designations that gained the support of thousands of Canadians.

And Senator Joe Day, himself a former member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, has been vocal in his support for this measure.

Thank you both for your efforts and presence here today.

La remise en vigueur des noms historiques fait partie intégrante de l'engagement du gouvernement qui consiste à reconnaître l'histoire glorieuse du Canada, à célébrer notre patrimoine et à honorer la mémoire de tant de braves Canadiens qui se sont sacrifiés au service de notre pays.

Cette initiative fait suite à d'autres, notamment les célébrations organisées à l'occasion du centenaire de la Marine et le rétablissement de la boucle d'officier à l'intention des officiers supérieurs de la Marine.

En outre, nous continuerons l'an prochain de mettre en valeur l'histoire nationale et l'héritage militaire du Canada, alors que nous préparerons les célébrations du bicentenaire de la guerre de 1812.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We Canadians are blessed with a proud military history - a legacy of service and sacrifice that established on these shores a land of freedom, democracy, and justice.

But a country that forgets its history does so at its own peril.

Exactly one hundred years ago today, our Queen Elizabeth's grandfather signed into existence the Royal Canadian Navy. It was a proud moment for our then young country.

Joined by their comrades in the Canadian Army and later by the Royal Canadian Air Force, these brave individuals went on to achieve tremendous things in the course of doing their their duty.

Not only did they defend our shores from those with hostile intent, they also forged a country; an independent country, a country that has grown to stand tall on the world stage, a defender of freedom, democracy and justice; a country that is, a century later, the envy of the rest of the world!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a legacy of which all Canadians can be justly proud. It is a legacy that today's announcement will help preserve for the generations of brave men and uniform who will serve this country with distinction in the year's to come.

Thank you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Honour has Been Restored!

Splice the Mainbrace! The Royal Honour has been restored!

Tune in to the Minister's official announcement at 9am, reinstating the traditional designations Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army, within the unified command of Her Majesty's Canadian Armed Forces.

I am attending events with the Minister in Halifax today, so will be unable to post anything further.

Be sure to visit, where our loyal volunteers will be celebrating this long overdue and joyous news at the appropriate hour.

Thank you all for your support over the past four years, we have finally done it!

Long live the RCN & RCAF!

Monday, August 1, 2011

6,000 Signatures!

Thank you to the six thousand veterans, family members of those currently serving and otherwise patriotic Canadians, who have now signed the petition to restore the Royal honour to the Canadian navy and air force!

I would also like to thank the almost 25,000 visitors who have been attracted to this blog, and who have collectively viewed almost 40,000 pages. This initiative has obviously attracted some very significant interest!

Thank you!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The new logo of the Winnipeg Jets, inspired by the RCAF Roundel!

This has the feeling of providence. True North Sports & Entertainment unveiled today the primary and secondary logos for the Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club which will begin play in the National Hockey League in 2011. The design for the new logo, which was developed in partnership with Reebok and the NHL, was inspired by the roundel of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

WINNIPEG — The Winnipeg Jets have opted for a sleek fighter jet as the centrepiece of their new logo.

The design has the jet pointed north over a red Maple Leaf in a blue and grey circle.

The Jets say the new logo, developed in partnership with Reebok and the NHL, was inspired by the logo of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The franchise confirmed at last month's NHL draft that it would be using the Jets nickname.

But the team did not show its hand on the logo, giving top draft pick Mark Scheifele of the Barrie Colts a generic NHL jersey.

The team played as the Atlanta Thrashers last season before it was purchased by True North Sports & Entertainment.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Robert Dale, DFC, RCAF

We are very pleased, delighted and honoured to have the support of Lieutenant Colonel (Ret'd) Robert (Bob) Gordon Dale, DSO, DFC, CD, a distinguished war hero of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

Bob Dale's name and reputation carry tremendous weight within the air force community, and he has undoubtedly been Canada's most eminent air force veteran since Air Commodore Leonard Birchall passed away in 2004. Both men have bequeathed post secondary education scholarship awards to Royal Canadian Air Cadets, the Birchall Scholarship, and Dale Scholarship, respectively.

I had the pleasure of speaking with him on the phone on Sunday, in which he offered his unqualified support, as well as his fond wish that traditional RCAF ranks be also rightfully restored. That would be Wing Commander to all of you.

Bob Dale is currently the Chairman of the Veteran's Advisory Committee at Sunnybrook Hospital and Honorary President of the Air Cadet League of Canada . He flew mosquito bombers in the Second World War, and his weather reports proved instrumental to General Eisenhower during the run-up to D-Day. You can read about his exploits in this 2004 speech to the Empire Club of Canada, entitled: "Juno, Where Citizen Soldiers from Canada Made History."

Thank you, sir, for supporting our campaign!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Admiral McFadden Retires

Head of Canadian navy sails into retirement.

It is unfortunate that Vice-Admiral McFadden opposed the executive curl and our campaign to restore the royal designation to the Canadian navy, but we wish him well in retirement. 37 years of naval service is nothing to sneeze at - he had a very successful career, and was at the top when the navy celebrated its centennial.

I don't know where his successor, Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, stands on restoring the 'Royal', but I do remember him as an extremely hard working executive officer when he was serving in HMCS Winnipeg, when I was a sub-lieutenant serving in another ship. Let's hope as the next Chief of Maritime Staff, he also becomes the nominal commander of the Royal Canadian Navy!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Royal Couple Board an RCAF Aircraft

This from the Daily Telegraph:

"The couple will leave London this morning on a Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft which will fly them all over Canada, as the Commonwealth’s largest realm traditionally pays the travel costs for visiting members of what is also the Canadian Royal family."

The Daily Mail said much the same thing. Although we are not there yet, this is music to my ears.

Bit by bit, appointment by appointment, symbol by symbol, visit by vist, the prime minister is busy remaking Canada in the image of its founders. He is restoring and reinforcing the symbols and traditions and very identity of the country at every opportunity. It is hard to imagine the navy and air force escaping with anything less than its rightful honour and heritage.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Veteran Voices

Our campaign at ROYALSALUTE.CA has produced a new video, this one including a small sample of the hundreds of patriotic comments left by veterans at the petition site. Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Prince Philip named honorary admiral and general of the Canadian Armed Forces

Prince Philip has been appointed an honorary admiral and general in Her Majesty's Canadian Armed Forces on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

Of course, we would have preferred that he became an honorary Admiral of the Royal Canadian Navy than an Admiral of Maritime Command, but very, very welcome nonetheless:

10 June 2011
Ottawa, Ontario

Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced that His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, has been appointed as an honorary admiral and general in Her Majesty’s Canadian Armed Forces on the occasion of his 90th birthday.

“I am delighted that His Royal Highness has accepted this honour from Canada in recognition of his significant contribution to our national life,” said Prime Minister Harper. “His unwavering support of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and his commitment to the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as to many other fields of endeavour in this country, are worthy of our highest recognition and deepest gratitude.”

It is the first time that an honorary rank is granted at the highest level of the Canadian Armed Forces, which underscores the importance of the honour being granted to His Royal Highness by Canada. With these appointments, The Duke of Edinburgh becomes an Admiral in Maritime Command and a General in Land Forces Command and Air Command, and His Royal Highness may choose to wear these ranks on all three uniforms of the Canadian Armed Forces.

"The Duke of Edinburgh has had a close association with the Canadian Armed Forces since the Coronation of Her Majesty the Queen in 1953. His Royal Highness is currently Colonel-in-Chief of five Canadian regiments, and holds similar appointments with all three cadet organizations. His service to the Canadian Armed Forces in this capacity has been recognized by the award of the Canadian Forces' Decoration with four clasps."

“On this important day, it is most appropriate for Canada to honour The Duke of Edinburgh for his outstanding record of service and dedication to the Canadian Armed Forces and to Canada over the past 58 years. He is truly an inspiration to us all and I know that all Canadians join me in extending congratulations to His Royal Highness on these appointments and best wishes for many more years of continued health and happiness,” added the Prime Minister.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Is 'Canadian Navy' even possible without the Queen's permission?

I have never been able to answer the following hypothetical:

If as the Minister of Defence has admitted below that the Royal designation has never been taken away - right he is on that, only the Sovereign can do that, and the Queen has not revoked it for the navy or for the air force - how is it that the government could officially call Maritime Command the 'Canadian Navy', unless it also intended to ask the Queen to rescind the royal proclamation that made the Naval Service of Canada the Royal Canadian Navy on August 29, 1911?

All answers would be appreciated.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

We should count ourselves lucky

Our task is rather modest, compared to theirs. The Royal Canadian Navy has bright days ahead, but I'm not so sure about our sister navy across the pond.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"a matter we are considering"

The scores of veterans who wrote to the Minister of National Defence last December and January have finally received their replies, and all of them, as far as we can make out, are carbon copies of the one I reprint below. It is a matter the government is currently considering, and expects to make a decision in the near future.

Dear Restore the Honour:

Thank you for your email concerning the Senate motion to change the name of Maritime Command. I appreciate the time you have taken to express your views on this subject, and please accept my apology for this delay in responding.

The constitution of the Canadian Forces, as written in Part II of the National Defence Act, states, "The Canadian Forces are the armed forces of Her Majesty raised by Canada and consist of one Service called the Canadian Armed Forces." The terms "Canadian Forces" and "Canadian Armed Forces" were both widely used in the years immediately following unification. Canadian Forces, as the older term, was in use long before unification and has become the predominant term largely because of that previous usage.

With respect to a proposal to formally re-establish the three separate services, since integration and unification in the 1960s the structure of the Canadian Forces has continually evolved. Members of the Canadian Forces can serve a portion of their career in their own environment, in other environments, at National Defence Headquarters, and in various operational commands, while wearing a single environmental uniform. I recognize that service loyalties and affection still run deep and every Canadian Forces member is proud of his or her distinctive "service" uniform and its traditions.

Concerning the potential restoration of the title "Royal," this matter has been reviewed on many occasions with the interest and morale of serving and past members of the Canadian Forces constantly in mind. The use of the word "Royal" as a title has, in fact, never been taken away from the Canadian Forces. When the three former services were amalgamated in 1968, the traditions and customary practices of the services were combined in the new Canadian Armed Forces. The Reorganization Act permitted continued use of the title "Royal" by units that had earned the honour, as well as other titles of a similar nature granted by customary right, such as Her Majesty's Canadian Ship and The Royal Canadian Regiment.

The reintroduction of the titles of the former single services amalgamated to form the Canadian Forces is a matter we are considering, and I expect that we will make a decision on this issue in the near future.

I trust this information is helpful, and thank you again for writing.


Peter MacKay
Minister of National Defence

Thursday, May 26, 2011


We have refreshed and revitalized our campaign headquarters at

Please go and vist the hundreds of comments (many of them are now populated at ROYALSALUTE.CA) that you veterans and petitioners have left at the petition website. You and your inspiring words are the reason that keeps us going on this. Very inspiring and patriotic stuff!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Restore the Honour on Twitter!

Andrew Coyne, national editor of Maclean's magazine, just twittered (or is that tweeted?) our petition. Given that he has more than 17,000 followers, this should garner some more signatures today. I suspect, but I don't know, that Peter C. Newman made him aware of our campaign.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bruce Beatty, RIP

Buzz Bourdon, signatory of our petition, wrote an interesting piece in the Globe and Mail on Sunday on the passing of Bruce Beatty, an RCAF veteran, and the man behind the Order of Canada, and two dozen other official decorations and medals.

Beatty had the highest standards when it came to wearing medals, Gauthier said. “He was particularly upset at the proliferation of unofficial medals, which he called ‘popcorn medals.’ He said, ‘If it doesn’t come from the Queen, then it is not real.’”

He loved designing, but what came after often left him frustrated. His particular nemeses were the federal bureaucrats who had little or no knowledge of honours and disliked Canada’s monarchy and its symbols.

“Sometimes, politics got in the way of design and he was pressured to delete the Queen’s effigy, cipher or crown from [his] designs,” Gauthier said.

But as a loyal subject, Beatty did his best to make sure his sovereign had her proper place on his medals.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

10 Reasons to Restore the Honour

Ten reasons why the federal government should quickly and cheerfully restore the Royal honour to Canada's navy and air force:

1. The Status Quo is Uninspiring: The official bureaucratic designations Canadian Forces Maritime Command and Canadian Forces Air Command to describe Canada's modern navy and air force do not resonate with the Canadian people. Most Canadians would probably be surprised to learn that we don't officially have a Navy or an Air Force.

2. The Senate of Canada says Just-Do-It: On Tuesday, December 14, 2010, the Canadian Senate unanimously passed a motion urging the federal government to change the name of Canada’s naval force from Maritime Command to a title that includes the word 'Navy'. Both 'Canadian Navy' and 'Royal Canadian Navy' are considered acceptable by the Senate of Canada.

3. Consistent with Government Policy: It is consistent with the reputation and aims of the reelected government in Canada whose policy is committed to the Canadian Armed Forces, the restoration and preservation of Canadian Symbols and Traditions, and the unique role of the Constitutional Monarchy in Canada's life, history and culture.

4. A Timely Initiative: This August 29, 2011 will mark the 100th anniversary of the granting of the Royal prefix to Canada's naval service by HM King George V, an honour that has never been revoked from the navy (or air force) but still subsists under different names within the reorganized Canadian Armed Forces. The granting of the Royal honour to Canada's naval and air services is a proud part of our nation's heritage and military tradition deepened in loyal and devoted service and distinctly forged in battle.

5. A Salute to Serving Members: Resuming usage of the Royal designation in referring to Canada's navy and air force (retroactive to February 1, 1968), would be a salute to all of those who serve and who have served in the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force; thousands of whom have signed a petition to the Government of Canada. Reconnecting serving members to their historical roots is the best way to preserve the institutional memory of Canada's distinct yet unified armed services.

6. Veterans Support it: The vast majority of our distinguished veterans (again, thousands of whom have signed a petition), veteran groups and ex-service associations support this initiative at the grassroots level, including that of the National Council of Veteran Associations, the Submariners Association of Canada, the Chief and Petty Officers Association and almost every branch of the Royal Canadian Naval Association, among numerous others.

7. The Change is Symbolic Only: This small, but hugely symbolic restoration can be facilitated without in any way compromising the integration of military operations, or undermining the unity of the Canadian Forces acting as a single organization under the current functional command system, which was the intent of Bill C-243, The Canadian Forces Reorganization Act, 1968.

8. The Costs are De Minimis: Reinstating the traditional designations could be efficiently and gradually accomplished without material cost to Canadian taxpayers, and could be executed by a simple administrative order from the Minister of National Defence.

9. End of the Path Long Followed: The Department of National Defence under successive governments has been gradually restoring the very identities of the Navy, Army and Air Force; their ranks, uniforms, history, traditions; for decades now. Restoring the full names of the distinct services within the Canadian Forces would be a natural, proper and fitting end to the path already followed.

10. Canada Remains a Constitutional Monarchy: Pays tribute to Her Majesty's long and devoted service to Canada, and is a timely and respectful gesture that fully recognizes HM The Queen's manifest position within the navy and air force as she approaches her Diamond Jubliee in 2012. Again, a very timely initiative.

Restore the Honour!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Peter C. Newman signs the petition!

I did not know that the Canadian writer, journalist and longtime Maclean's editor was also a naval captain in the Canadian Naval Reserves. He is petition signature number 5814, and wrote:

As this petition indicates, usage of the Royal Canadian Navy was never legally removed from the books -- and this was the Navy we joined and swore allegiance to -- and continue to serve.


Now I wonder if he would be willing to write an article in Maclean's magazine?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

We are encouraged

I overstated my position below on the issue of relevancy, for it surely is not irrelevant that the current majority government is Conservative in stripe. In my zealous attempt at being politically neutral and non-partisan, I over-reached. Let's give credit where credit is due. As we state over at

We are encouraged with the election of a new government in Canada whose policy is committed to the Canadian Armed Forces, the restoration and preservation of Canadian Symbols and Traditions, and the unique role of the Constitutional Monarchy in Canada's life, history and culture.

Here here.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Majority Government!

That it happens to be a Conservative majority government is irrelevant also relevant.

What matters today is that we veteran volunteers now have a strong and stable government to lobby, a government that does not have to look over its shoulders at the possibility that opposition parties might play politics over an issue that is fundamentally not political. It's about our military, the pride and traditional esprit-de-corps of our forces and the fact that we would like to see the Queen of Canada made manifest once again within her own Navy and Air Force in advance of next year's Diamond Jubilee.

So let's get on with the campaign and make one final push to restoring the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Election

Our campaign is, of course, not affiliated with any political party or other organization. We are veteran volunteers who want the government to simply and cheerfully revive the royal designations for Canada's Navy and Air Force, whichever government that happens to be.

We are thankful that the Senate of Canada proved this issue is not split along party lines. Indeed the upper chamber is united in replacing the 'sea element' of the Canadian Forces with a name that includes the word 'Navy'. Imagine that, the Senate giving its unanimous support on something. They, like us, prefer the nation has a navy, not a Canadian Forces 'sea element'.

Because an election has been called in Canada, and Parliament has been dissolved, our work at and here will be suspended until a new government has been established after May 2. We may still post here from time to time, but obviously we cannot lobby the government until after the election. Goodbye for now.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Alive and Kicking

I've been very busy at work the last couple of weeks, hence the lack of activity. We have not gone away, nor are we taking a holiday, it's just that I actually have a day job that needs to be tended to. So no worries, the campaign is very much alive and kicking.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Billy Bishop Museum unanimously endorses the return of the Royal Canadian Air Force!

The Billy Bishop Home and Museum (home of Canada's greatest ace) is managed by the Owen Sounds Museums Board, and I received this letter today from their Chairman:

Dear Mr. Smith:

Thank you for your email sent January 3, 2011. This matter was considered by the Owen Sound Museums Board at a meeting held Wednesday January 19th, 2011. The following resolution was passed unanimously "to support this intitiative as a Board and send a letter to Mike Smith indicating this."

We wish you every success in your endevours.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. J.P. Totton,
Chair Owen Sounds Museums Board.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Naval Club of Toronto and the Toronto Sea Cadet Alumni Association unanimously endorse restoration of the Royal Canadian Navy!

Michael Smith

At our Directors' meeting held on 23 January, 2011 it was unanimously decided that we would support the restoration of "Royal Canadian Navy".

Letters to Minister of Defense, Peter MacKay and the Prime Minister will be mailed this week.

I can also confirm (As 1st V.P. of the Naval Club of Toronto) that endorsement letters have already been sent to MoD and PM.

Yours aye

Michael A. Roger
Toronto Sea Cadet Alumni Association

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

150 Wing would be supportive!

This message from the President of 150 (North Atlantic) Wing, RCAF Association:

Dear Mr. Smith - we would support your cause - and rather than respond on a local level - we have many Wings accross Canada -and with National endorsement, we think the response of our organization would be more effective. To that end, I have sent your request to our National office. I will follow up with them for a reply. I trust this is ok with you? Thanks, Liz Moores.

I explained to her that we have deliberately not canvassed the national executives (at least not initially) because we wanted this to be a grassroots campaign, not a top down initiative. That is why we were leaving national organizations like the Naval Officers Association and Air Force Association to the end, so that veterans at the local level would have a say and a vote first.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Niagara Region Naval Veterans vote yes! to Royal Canadian Navy

A very interesting situation occurred at the general meeting of the Niagara Branch of the Royal Canadian Naval Association on January 30th. Apparently there was a motion put forward to change the name to 'Canadian Navy', which was handily defeated by the majority of veterans. A new motion was then tabled from the floor and seconded, followed by another vote that won.

So there you have it, the RCNA Niagara Region is totally in favour of "RETURN THE ROYAL".

Friday, January 28, 2011

Just taking a little rest

My apologies for the lack of activity this week - we've been taking a small break, but will continue again soon enough. When I say we, I mean me, yours truly, my esteemed co-partner and our huge network of support in the military and veteran community - the thousands of you, some of whom I served with in the past.

Thank you for your continued support and patience.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The vast majority of those serving prefer to belong to a Service, not an 'Element'

Aaron Hynes writes that there is no ‘navy’ to rename. Of course, and that's the point the Senate is seeking to correct because, unlike rarities like Aaron who have no problem belonging to a Canadian Forces 'element', the vast majority want to be identified with a traditional service, like the navy or air force. These traditional designations can easily be accommodated within the existing unified Canadian Armed Forces and its integrated functional command structure.

It is also very unfortunate that the writer completely misunderstands what would happen if these designations are officially brought back. Those wearing an air force uniform, but currently serving on a ship flying helicopters for example, would not find themselves out of place in the RCN. They would obviously belong to the RCAF within the unified Canadian Forces, even though they would be attached to a naval unit, in the same way that soldiers who belong to a particular regiment, find themselves serving under a different operational unit if posted to Afghanistan. What service identity you belong to, has nothing to do with what Command, what Task Force, what operational unit, you happen to be serving at the time. He either does not understand this, or he is deliberately spreading misinformation in the article he wrote and we attach below:

Recently, the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence passed a motion calling on the government to change the name of the Maritime Command of the Canadian Forces (CF) to either "Canadian Navy" or "Royal Canadian Navy."

The intention behind this motion is laudable, and is doubtless appreciated by many former and current naval personnel who are passionate about the history and traditions of the service, including this writer.

However, the recommendation of the Senate committee is based on an incorrect supposition — namely, that the Canadian Forces Reorganization Act of 1968 changed the name of the Royal Canadian Navy to Maritime Command. What really happened in 1968 is that Canada ceased to have a navy per se. The name "Canadian navy" is still used colloquially by Canadians and as a brand by the Department of National Defence to refer to Canada’s warships and their crews. However, those ships and personnel belong to no single organizational entity within the Canadian Forces.

Maritime Command is not a navy by another name. It is an authority that exercises control over certain functions of the Forces. Maritime Command (MARCOM) does not control any ships or personnel engaged in military operations at sea. While deployed on operations, the CF’s ships and crews belong to Canada Command (CANCOM) when in Canadian waters or airspace, or Canadian Expeditionary Force Command when outside Canadian waters or airspace.

Even the admirals commanding the Atlantic and Pacific fleets do not belong to MARCOM. They actually belong to Joint Task Force (Atlantic) and Joint Task Force (Pacific), both of which fall under the authority of CANCOM.

Moreover, MARCOM commonly exercises authority over helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, the installations at which these aircraft are based, and the personnel who operate and maintain them, all of whom wear the uniform of the air element of the Forces. MARCOM also has authority over many personnel who wear the uniforms of the air and land elements while serving as intelligence officers, cooks, logisticians, medics, etc. These personnel, who cling fervently to their own "air force" and "army" customs and traditions, would be very unhappy to suddenly find themselves in the Royal Canadian Navy.

The Canadian Forces simply does not have any organizational entity to which the name "Canadian Navy" or "Royal Canadian Navy" can be properly applied. Of course, the names army, navy and air force will always be used informally by those who proudly wear the land, sea and air uniforms of the Canadian Forces. That is how it should remain.

Aaron Hynes is a former naval officer who currently works as a policy adviser in the Senate.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winnipeg White Ensign Naval Club votes a resounding "YEA" to Royal Canadian Navy!

This message from George Apps, their President, to the Executive Secretary of the Royal Canadian Naval Association, Jerry Sigrist:


At our meeting last night the vote to have "ROYAL" returned to the Canadian Navy was a resounding "YEA".

I have also had emails and phone calls from members that could not attend the meeting saying Yes, lets get ROYAL back.

By the way - I brought up this subject about a year ago and it was suggested that I "forget" it. Suppose that now the Air Force want it back things are different. As the Air Force usually get what they want, expect the word Royal will soon be back

Trust all is well with you Hope you didn't suffer too much from the recent storms.


We know the air force is not driving this - the Senate of Canada is, along with our veteran's campaign which is attempting to give equal respect to both services, even though the Senate concentrated on the navy alone. The reason: Senator Rompkey's motion was timed to coincide with the Canadian Naval Centennial (now past), which is why it is now appropriate to do it for both services, not just the navy.

Oshawa Naval Veterans Club votes yes! in favour of RCN

Good afternoon Michael,

Your e-mail and information was brought up during the last General Members Meeting and the membership was for your cause and showed support. So with this being said, you may add the Oshawa Naval Veterans Club as a supporter.

Hopefully, this may help you out. We have also placed a link on our website and it was placed throughout the website, but here is the main link, Good Luck!


Regards, the Oshawa Naval Veterans Club.

tel. (905) 723-0871

ONVC Website:

ONVC Calendar of Events:

ONVC Recognition:

Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Where is the campaign to rebrand Maritime Command as 'Canadian Navy'?

That was a rhetorical question - there is no campaign for 'Canadian Navy', and very few veterans would support that option over Royal Canadian Navy. Canadian Navy is something dreamt up by DND bureaucrats who decided - on their own - to dispense with the royal honour that was so deservedly earned by our navy of yore.

That in a nutshell, is the basic injustice in this whole exercise; a government department does not need to build its case, unlike the people and veterans who have to knock on doors to reclaim a piece of their lost heritage, to reclaim the navy's original, authentic, proud, noble and rightful indentity. The navy belongs to the nation, it belongs to the people, it belongs to our Sovereign in right of Canada. It does not belong to bureaucrats, nor does it belong to our admirals or sailors who serve to protect the sovereignty of Canada, even though the people have an obvious interest in ensuring that the morale and esprit-de-corps of our armed forces is maintained and maximized, and that they remain motivated to the greatest extent possible in the defence of our country.

If some people want to restrict the appellation to Canadian Navy - let them campaign for it!

They should be the ones doing the campaigning anyways, since they are the ones devising something entirely new, they are the ones deliberately disassociating the navy from its proud and honourable legacy - let them campaign in open like we are, not through the backdoor like they are doing.

That won't happen because the basic truth is that people are not passionate about Canadian Navy - it may be an improvement over Maritime Command - but it doesn't stir the blood like Royal Canadian Navy. Thousands of people across this country passionately want a return to RCN, which is why it is possible to have a populist campaign. There is no yearning for Canadian Navy because it does little to inspire, it does nothing to reconnect the country to its glorious past.

Yes, there is a very good reason why they are not campaigning for it.

They would lose.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

White Ensign Club of Montreal to hold general vote on RCN on January 20th

The president of the White Ensign Club of Montreal has promised to get back to me on the results of their vote; however, he is convinced that their members will be supportive.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Toronto Sea Cadet Alumni Association to decide on January 23rd

Here is the message I received from their president this morning:

Michael J. Smith

This is one of the topics for discussion at our next Alumni Directors' meeting being held on 23 January, 2011 at the Naval Club of Toronto.

I will be in touch with you shortly thereafter.

Yours aye

Michael A. Roger
President, TSCAA
and former Royal Canadian Sea Cadet
RCSCC HAIDA 1952 - 1956

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Our official campaign website, although a continuous work in progress, is beginning to take very fine shape indeed, and is now live.

You can now visit it and send a message to the Minister of National Defence (copy Prime Minister of Canada), in support of our veterans and veteran organizations who have thus far endorsed our campaign, to urge the government to restore the 'Royal Honour' to Canada's Navy and Air Force.

Please visit:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Official endorsement today from the Canadian Naval Air Group!

Mr. Michael J. Smith

CNAG Response to “Restore the Honour”!

Good afternoon Michael,

In-accordance-with your recent request to have the Canadian Naval Air Group, (CNAG) support the Senate proposal to reinstate the title “Royal Canadian Navy” (RCN), in place of the current Maritime Command, the answer is yes, you can include CNAG as an advocate of that quest.

However, I also feel it is imperative that you are aware that this was by no means a simple and/or unanimous decision. In fact, a significant number of our members were adamantly opposed to this decision. They sincerely believe that decisions of this nature, that will surely affect the currently serving members of the Canadian Forces, should be left to them and not the wishes of Veterans attempting to rekindle past memories.

As previously stated, NCVA has already come out in support of “RCN”, which technically meant that CNAG did as well, but now you have the whole story, including our official blessing, to utilize as you see fit.

Yours in Naval Air,

Paul Baiden MMM, OStJ, SC, CD
National Chairman
Canadian Naval Air Group

A very nice endorsement from the Sunshine Coast Naval Veterans last night

Dear Mr. Smith:

I am responding to your recent appeal to the members of the Royal Canadian Naval Association dated January 8, 2011.

My name is Susan Blake and I am the President of the Sunshine Coast Naval Veterans Association. In February, 1988 we received our charter and have been an active part of a growing community ever since. Our branch is located in the community of Sechelt, B.C. on the Sunshine Coast.

We are a very proud organization, therefore it would mean a great deal to our membership as well as other veteran organizations to see the "Royal" designation restored to the Canadian Navy.

Susan Blake, President
Sunshine Coast Naval Veterans Association

Thursday, January 13, 2011

RCAF endorsement today from 426 Thunderbird Squadron Association!

Michael- the response from Trenton:

The Executive, on behalf of the membership of the 426 Thunderbird Squadron Association, fully supports the initiative to restore the "Royal" Honour to Canada's Navy and Air Force.

Doug Jones
426 Thunderbird Squadron Association

Support today from Burlington Naval Veterans

There were dissenters in this group, but majority opinion was firmly in the yeah column.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

When did the stripping of the Royal Honour from the Canadian military come to a stop?

A fascinating message I received from Alex Saunders would suggest that the final order to stop this massive assault on the regimental honour and heritage of our armed services, came from none other than Governor General Georges Vanier, Canada's finest vice regal.

Dear Michael

In the 1970's my involvement in amateur football brought me into contact with a retired colonel, a former Black Watch officer, who served for a period in a CDS secretariat. He recounted a happening from the period when "Royal" was being stripped from the RCAF, the RCN, Royal Canadian Ordinance Corps, Royal Canadian Signal Corps ...Service Corps ... Dental Corps etc. The stripping of "Royal" reached a point and then stopped.

My friend revealed to my why it stopped. My friend was privy to a communication from Government House ordering a stop to the process with the message "DO NOT TOUCH MY REGIMENT". The Governor General at that time was Governer General Georges Vanier and he had no hesitation in demanding the preservation of the Royal 22nd Regiment the "Van Doos". So today we have all of the combat arms unchanged from their traditional names.

I thought you might be interested in this.

Alex Saunders

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Naval Associations from London, Kelowna and Kitchener-Waterloo are in favour of RCN!

Although we have the support of the Royal Canadian Naval Association at the national level, there are many independent RCNA branches across the country with their own boards and executives that need to be canvassed as well. Look for more of these in the days to come.


Have heard back so far from Kitchener-Waterloo, Vancouver, Kelowna, London and of course ADPNA. There are more to come.

I'm sure many individuals have sent in their personal letters to the powers to be and this might wake up a few more.

All including the National President are 100% percent in favour, will sign the petition and may be quoted if need be.

My name can be used as being in favour.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Let's give the navy its name back

The good Senator Day writes a timely opinion article in the Toronto Star today:

If someone were to ask you to give the official name of our navy, chances are like most Canadians you would give an answer that ended in “Navy,” and understandably so.

This, however, is not the reality. With the adoption of the Canadian Forces Reorganization Act (1968) our navy became Maritime Command, amalgamating the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force into one unified service: The Canadian Forces.

This act restructured our military but regretfully discarded half a century of tradition in doing so. All three branches were dressed rifle-green; common army-style ranks replaced long-standing separate navy, army and air force identities.

This was detrimental to the navy’s esprit de corps. Eventually, though, dark blue replaced drab green. Captains returned to being captains, rather than colonels-at-sea and the “executive curl” returned to sailor’s uniforms, a move embraced with overwhelming fanfare, notwithstanding, for the most part, that this was the sailors’ first time wearing it.

Recognizing this trend, my colleague Senator William Rompkey introduced a private members bill to give Maritime Command a more suitable name. While there was unanimous support to do away with the use of the term Maritime Command, this motion sparked a debate as to what the replacement name should be. Do we go with the descriptive Canadian Navy, or return to the historic name Royal Canadian Navy?

After hearing from former admirals, historians and other witnesses, the Senate national security and defence committee left the final decision in the hands of the government by passing a motion that recommends that Maritime Command be replaced by a new name that includes the word “navy.”

Many Canadians support a return to Royal Canadian Navy, others, the descriptive moniker Canadian Navy; there is no dishonour in the latter. I believe that those serving today would be proud to do so under the title Canadian Navy.

However, the name Royal Canadian Navy still technically exists; it was never abolished. Under the new organizational structure, the navy acquired the name title Maritime Command. Reinstating the name the Royal Canadian Navy designation simply requires approval by the minister of national defence. Giving the navy a name other than the Royal Canadian Navy again rejects our rich and proud Canadian naval history.

With no Royal designation, why continue calling our vessels Her Majesty’s Canadian ships — HMCS Iroquois for example? As the Canadian Forces is one force operationally, should we give new names to famed regiments, such as the Royal Canadian Dragoons or the Royal 22e Régiment?

Discarding Royal from our navy accomplishes what? Advocates for CN suggest Canada has since “fled” Britain’s colonial yoke.

This distorts our past. In 1939 Canada on its own decided when and if to enter World War II, the same conflict that established the Royal Canadian Navy as a world-class navy, shoulder to shoulder with our allies.

No one disputes Canada’s sovereignty. The Queen remains our sovereign. We share her with Britain; it is not Britain’s sovereign who reigns over us. This is what the Statute of Westminster (1931) declares.

The Royal adjective helps to define ourselves along with our policies of bilingualism and multiculturalism. Our nation prospers within these three pillars, essential ingredients of our distinct Canadian identity in North America.

Reinstating the Royal Canadian Navy has nothing to do with Canada’s colonial roots. It honours those risking their lives today by connecting them to those who gave their lives in the past. Scores of currently serving naval personnel have written to me in support of a return to the Royal Canadian Navy.

There is wonderful goodwill attached to our navy’s past. Let us salute the bravery, sacrifice and honour of those serving and those who have served before them.

Our navy was honoured with the designation Royal Canadian Navy 100 years ago. We should re-establish that link with the past as we look toward another century of service by the Royal Canadian Navy.

New Brunswick Senator Joseph Day is a member of the Senate’s national security and defence committee.

The Vancouver Naval Veterans Association calls on the government to restore the Royal Canadian Navy!

To All Concerned:

A few Months ago, I responded to a similar call related to this issue.

At this time, I am not able to recover my comments, saved on my computer, however, I can repeat in essence, the gist of that response.

The Canadian Navy received the 'Royal' title from H.M. King George V, in 1911.

So what authority removed that title?

In my way of thinking, the only source of authority able to remove that title, would have to have been made by a reining Monarch!

That never happened.

So the question I ask is simply this: Who was able to have the 'ROYAL' removed from the "Royal Canadian Navy", after the title had been conferred upon it, by the King of England, the reining Monarch at that time?

On behalf of my Executive, and the general membership of the Vancouver Naval Veterans Association, we support the move to restore the 'ROYAL' title to the Royal Canadian Navy.

Yours Aye,

John More
Vancouver Naval Veterans Association

Naval Weapons Association says yes to RCN!

Another day, another endorsement, this one from the Vice President of the Naval Weapons Association of Canada, Ross Raymond:

Thanks for info and query Michael.

We in the Naval Weapons Association have had this discussion in the past and I can formally answer for the NWT Association that we as an Association are in full support of this endeavour. Cheers.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Huge endorsement from the Royal Canadian Naval Association today!!


The President has asked me to go out to all Branches of the RCNA for their individual support which I am doing.

I am certain it will be unanimous and there is no problem with the RCNA supporting this initiative and most if not all members have given individual support by now as I have. I am also a member of Submariners Association of Canada East and Central Branches, The Chief & Petty Officers Association, the Admiral Desmond Piers Naval Association (Past President) as well as others.

You can rest assured you have the support of the Royal Canadian Naval Association from the President down.

Jerry Sigrist, Executive Secretary RCNA National

Canada's Naval Aviator Veterans

I received a message from Paul Baiden, the President of the Canadian Naval Air Group this morning, who may, I repeat may, be in a position to let us know as early as this week:

Good Morning Michael,

I thank you for this latest update, which I will present to the
executive of the HGVC, of CNAG, this coming Wed, along with the current results of my survey of the other Chapters and former Naval Aviators.

The festive season has made it difficult to contact many of our members, however, I hope we will be able to provide you with our final position at that time.

Yours in Naval Air,


Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Admiral Desmond Piers Naval Association endorses our campaign!

Here is the message I received today from the President of the Admiral Desmond Piers Naval Association:

Dear Mr. Smith;

At our last General Meeting our shipmates voted support for the initiative to reinstate the Royal Honor to the Canadian Navy. I have already sent an email to the Senate of Canada indicating our endorsement to that cause.

Yours Aye

Frank Wells
President, ADPNA

One Navy

The navy has evolved over its one hundred year history, and must keep evolving. But it is one navy, with one institutional memory, a fact that unfortunately gets undermined and lost everytime we rename it and disassociate it from its original, authentic, proud, noble and rightful identity - the Royal Canadian Navy.

I remain absolutely convinced that our serving and future naval men and women would find it a distinct honour and privilege to be associated, identified and reconnected with such a proud and noble legacy, and would want to be associated with the memory and deeds of our veterans, and would want to preserve their sacrifice within the institutional memory of a shared and common identity. The hundreds of messages sent by serving sailors to Senator Day indicating the preference for RCN, would seem to be evidence of just that.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Naval Club of Toronto

I spoke with a member of their executive who informs me that they will not know the position of their members until the end of this month. It would be lovely to get their endorsement. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Endorsement today from 879 RCAF Wing!

Here is the message I received moments ago from their Vice President:

On behalf of 879 (Earl MacLeod) RCAF Wing Air Force Association of Canada I am responding to your letter re: resuming the usage of the 'Royal Honour', to the RCAF. Our wing is in full support of having this honor resumed as we all honorably served under the 'Royal Canadian Air Force ' name.

Marjorie Johansen
Vice President
879(Earl MacLeod )RCAF Wing
Air Force Association of Canada

An Urgent Appeal to our Supporters

Dear Friends of the RCN and RCAF,

You are one of the more than five thousand patriotic Canadians and organizations who have already expressed your support in the appeal to the government to restore the ‘Royal Honour’ to Canada's Navy and Air Force. Thanks to you, we believe that our voice is beginning to be heard!

The Senate of Canada, on 14 December 2010, passed a motion to encourage the Minister of National Defence to officially change the identity of ‘Maritime Command’ to a name that includes the word ‘Navy’; the term that is already being used unofficially, along with ‘Air Force’ for ‘Air Command’, as part of the recent revitalization of the Canadian Forces. This natural return to the traditional and more inspiring identities of our Armed Forces is only logical. Most Canadians would be surprised to learn that Canada has not had an official Navy, Army or Air Force since unification in 1968!

It is now one hundred years since the 'Royal Honour' was first granted to the Navy by HM the King in 1911 and then to the Air Force in 1924. This was a recognition deepened in succeeding years by the tremendously loyal and devoted service and sacrifice of Canadian men and women whose legacy, forged in battle, remains for all of us to honour.

From the RCMP to many of our famed regiments, like the Royal 22e and Royal Newfoundland, as well as in hundreds of other Canadian institutions, we live in a country that since Confederation has celebrated and known thousands upon thousands of ‘Royal Canadians’ in every generation. It makes no sense to continue to deprive our Navy and Air Force of an honour that is so well-deserved and that rightly belongs to all of them in all ranks; those serving as well as veterans. To be ‘Royal’ is an iconic honour and also shared by hundreds of non-military Canadian institutions and organizations that, like the Armed Forces, are deeply embedded within the history and fabric of Canadian society and culture.

The government will soon decide whether to rebrand and reimage Maritime Command (yet again), or respectfully return it to its rightful identity - the Royal Canadian Navy. It naturally follows that this same dignity be restored to the Air Force whose heritage and tradition, like that of the Navy, equally deserves our respect.

Just as the continuation of the Army’s ‘Royal Canadian Armoured Corps’ and ‘Royal Canadian Dragoons’ has not altered the continued unified structure of the Canadian Forces, neither will the restoration of the prefix ‘Royal’ to the Navy and Air Force. This is not an appeal for a return to separate forces and organizations. The RCN and RCAF subsist de facto within Her Majesty’s Canadian Armed Forces.

The time to act on this is now and the Minister and Prime Minister need and want to hear directly from all of us. Please write to the Minister of Defence (with a copy to the Prime Minister) expressing your wishes. Alternatively, you can visit our official campaign website and send a message from there.

Write to:
Peter Mackay

Copy to:
Office of the Prime Minister

Yours very truly,

Michael J. Smith
Restore the Honour!
Veteran's campaign to restore the royal designation to Canada's Navy and Air Force

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why we are here

The unified command of Canada's armed services in some fashion was an idea that had been considered for a long time. Efficiency in the military is obviously not an unworthy goal.

What occurred in 1968, however, went far beyond an administrative initiative. It was a massive assault on the very identities of the Navy, Army and Air Force; their ranks, uniforms, history, traditions. For a country that had in the previous fifty years fought two world wars and Korea, the shock of this caused enormous pain to over a million Canadian veterans as well as to most of all ranks who were serving at the time.

Since then, and following a very long, dark period of unbelievably low morale with poor support, lack of equipment and an attitude of neglect and indifference, there has arisen an attempt to recover some of what had been lost. Recognizing the need to restore something of the identities of the naval, land and air forces, new uniforms were created that, although not the same as the ones that belonged to Canada's fighting forces before, were a variation on the theme. Now the terms 'Navy', 'Army' and 'Air Force' that had been morphed into 'Maritime Command',
'Land Command' and 'Air Command' are regularly, but unofficially, used.

The decision by senior officers and staff to use the common terms 'Navy', 'Army' and 'Air Force' has been made without reference to the official authority over the legal identities of 'Maritime Command', 'Land Command' and 'Air Command'. That is why this matter was considered in the Senate and is at this moment a matter before the government.

Thousands of Canadians, including distinguished veterans of the Royal Canadian Navy, the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force, have signed a petition strongly urging the government to restore the full traditional, Canadian names for Maritime Command and Air Command. Because the Royal Honour has never been withdrawn by HM the Queen and only she has the authority to do that, the title still applies, though implicit, to the continuing naval and air forces within the Canadian Armed Forces. In other words, just as DND is able to use the terms 'Navy', 'Army' and 'Air Force' as the inherent identities for Maritime Command, Land Command and Air Command, so is the prefix 'Royal' also perpetuated with them.

We agree with the decision to move away from the bureaucratic and uninspiring identities of 'Maritime Command' and 'Air Command' but in so doing we insist that the full names for the distinct services within the Canadian Forces, be properly restored. Indeed, we would advise the government that the historical and true names for Canada's Navy and Air Force, spoken or unspoken, remains the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force. It is the only sensible and appropriate option and actually can be done simply and cheerfully given the constitutional authority available to the Minister of National Defence.

We are deeply disappointed by the insinuations of some that the prefix 'Royal' is an
archaic option that can be dismissed in the formal styling of the names for the naval and air forces. Canada, past and present, is and always has been a 'Royal' nation. We are further saddened by the unfortunate view made by others that today's Canadian sailors, soldiers and air personnel have no identifiable link to their predecessors in the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force. What a preposterous notion for anyone who has ever served in the military to make. Even in the unified Forces, there remains a very strong association with the ships, squadrons, regiments, battle honours and the like that are saluted, toasted and respectfully remembered.

We are further confused by the apparent ignorance and disregard that a few officers and members of Parliament have shown towards HM the Queen, the Crown and Canada's actual, real and constitutional authority in relationship especially to the Canadian Forces. We believe that the discussion of restoring the names of the naval and air forces ought not to be in this particualr context, political and especially not from officers of Her Majesty's Canadian Armed Forces whose commission they have the privilege to possess from the Queen to whom they also have made a solemn and loyal oath of service. It is most unfortunate that this itself has to be said.

Canada's history and heritage, including that of our military, ought not to be at the mercy of the opinion of a few. Indeed, our rich heritage and historical foundation remain one of our most admirable and attractive features; including that of the RCN and the RCAF and all our Canadian Forces who deserve all the honours that have been bestowed upon them.

The voices of not only veterans but Canadians from across the country and in different generations are speaking out.

That is why we are here.

Official Message Printed at Royal Salute:

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Wren Association of Toronto, for the record...

The lady veterans are in our corner. The Wren Association of Toronto includes veterans from the Womens Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS), Womens Royal Naval Service (WRNS, where "Wrens" get their name), the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Navy plus former and current women reservists in the current Canadian navy. Here is the message I received today from their president:

The Wren Association of Toronto who’s membership include WW11 and post war WRCNS, WRNS also women who served in the RCN and RN plus Reserviists in the Canadian Armed Forces Maritime Command have stated that they wish to be on record as supporting the use of ROYAL CANADIAN NAVY now and in the future.

Margaret Haliburton President.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Admiral Landymore named 2010 inductee to the Wall of Honour at the Royal Military College of Canada

Well this is timely, isn't it. As an RMC alumnus, I duly received my copy of Veritas in the mail yesterday, to pleasantly discover that Admiral Landymore (this blog's patron, by the way) was inducted to the RMC Wall of Honour, in part for his courageous stance against unification. The great admiral became embroiled in a bitter public disagreement over the unification of the Canadian Armed Forces and resigned from the Royal Canadian Navy on 19 July 1966. Here is his citation as printed in Veritas:

1916 – 2008

Born in Brantford, Ontario, in 1916, the only son of Dr. Frederick and Gladys (Moss) Landymore, Bill Landymore enrolled in the Royal Military College of Canada in 1934. The College motto, ”Truth, Duty, Valour,” was to be the inspiration for his 32-year military career. Landymore entered the RCN in 1936 as a midshipman, and saw service in Palestine, World War II and Korea. He served with distinction in 13 RN & RCN ships, as well as training the gunnery crews of seven allied ships at Scapa Flow in 1943. In WWII, he survived the sinking of HMCS Fraser and HMCS Margaree, and was awarded a Mention-In-Dispatches (MID) on the Murmansk Convoys.

He commanded HMCS Iroquois for two tours of duty in Korea, was awarded a second MID, and as Commander, Canadian Destroyers Far East, became an Officer of the Order of the British Empire. Following the war, he commanded HMCS Bonaventure, Canada’s last aircraft carrier. His final sea-going appointment was Senior Canadian Officer Afloat Atlantic.

Landymore served as both Flag Officer Pacific and Atlantic and was twice appointed Senior Officer in Chief Command Atlantic Sub-Area. He led the Canadian Naval Contingent in the United Allied Parade, 14 June 1942 in London, and he was Parade Commander when H. M. Queen Elizabeth II presented her colour to the RCN, 1 August 1959. His final act of service earned him a place of honour among Canada’s naval supporters. A staunch opponent of unification, Admiral Landymore refused to sacrifice his principles to save his career. Foreseeing problems that unification would bring for the Navy, and to the morale of its sailors, he argued his case forcefully. Many of the unification initiatives that ended the Royal Canadian Navy have since been reversed.

In retirement, Bill Landymore served as Chairman of the Board of the Grace Hospital, Halifax, for which he was awarded the Salvation Army Cross of the Order of Distinguished Auxiliary Service. Throughout his life, he thought of others for whom he was responsible before himself. He gave generously of his time, skill and resources, particularly encouraging education of special needs children.

Plaque inscription: Distinguished naval flag officer, honored by peers and subordinates, volunteer leader.

The Petition moves along...

May 1: Laurie Hawn, M.P. agrees to support petition
April 30: Sent draft petition to The Dominion Institute to seek their sponsorship
April 28: Sent draft petition to Captain(N) Pickingford, Project Manager, Canadian Navy Centennial Project
April 27: Sent petition to Blaine Barker of the Royal Canadian Naval Association and Bob Nixon of the Naval Officer's Association of Canada and Peter Dawe, Executive Director of the RMC Club
April 26: The Monarchist League of Canada members are supportive
April 25: Interesting - even heated - debate over at the Navy, Army, Air Force Forum, where the "Yeas" have it by a two-thirds majority.