Monday, May 21, 2007

A timely request

By Matt Bondy, Columnist with the Guelph Mercury

As you all know, it is Victoria Day here in Canada; the day we set aside in honour of Queen Victoria and observe as the official birthday of the reigning sovereign, Elizabeth the Second.

In keeping with this celebration of Royal Heritage, I would ask that the DP's readers strongly consider signing the petition (find a permanent link to the left of this page under the HM Forces section) to restore Royal designation to Canada's Navy and Air Force.

Canada's Navy was referred to as the Royal Canadian Navy - and the Air Force as the Royal Canadian Air Force - until in 1968 the Pearson-led Liberal government devised their brilliant scheme to 'unify' the Canadian Forces into one interoperable force. They stripped the Navy and Air force of their traditional jacks and ensigns, and also of their traditional uniforms. (Not to mention, the army was told it had to begin saluting as the yanks do, with palm facing the ground, instead of how they had always done, with palm facing the object of the salute. Took me several pushups to figure this out during basic training.) Since that time, and under the Mulroney and Chretien governments, Canada has been slowly restoring what was best about the old system. The Navy and Air Force have recuperated some of their traditions and styles of dress, and both of these components, as well as the army, have distinct representation in Ottawa once more.

The recuperation of Royal designation to the Navy and Air Force are natural steps toward finding the equilibrium between modernisation and tradition. As anyone who has ever served in the armed services will tell you, Regiment is everything. The army was spared the worst of Pearson's wrath, in that army units kept their regimental formation (for example, I was an infantryman with the Essex and Kent Scottish Regiment). But in the Air Force and Navy, personnel move around quite a lot, and their main point of mutual identification was with the Navy or Air Force as a whole. It was devestating to the servicemen in these branches when their traditions were gutted, and remains a major bone of contention among serving personnel.

What this petition asks is nothing more than simply revising whatever statutes are necessary to return the Navy and Air Force to their earlier titles as the RCN and RCAF respectively. This would require absolutely ZERO compromise of the progress made toward interoperability in the Canadian Forces, but would only restore to these two branches some of their tradition, their visible character, and would raise the profile of the Canadian Forces in the national consciousness. This, after decades of defence recklessness, is the least we can do for our men and women in uniform.

The lead petitioners have already secured some parliamentary support for this initiative, and I am confident that more is on the way.

So on this day that is dedicated to our Royal heritage, I ask you from the bottom of my heart to consider signing this petition. The object is to have collected several hundred, if not thousands of signatures by 2010, at which time Canada's Navy will celebrate its 100th Anniversary.

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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.