Monday, May 10, 2010

Political push afoot to rename the Canadian navy

A most welcome development, but it does not go far enough

Federal politicians of all stripes are voicing support for a Liberal senator’s effort to change the name of the Canadian Forces Maritime Command to the one that most Canadians understand: the Canadian Navy.

“I think there’s good support for it. I think that that’s what the navy wants,” Senator William Rompkey said Friday of the motion he introduced in the Red Chamber earlier this week.

“This is an opportunity to define the Canadian navy as it is. Those who are in the navy, and indeed those who served postwar, feel that they built the modern Canadian navy and that it should be called just that.”

Some Canadians will be surprised to learn that the Canadian navy is not called the Canadian Navy. The name was changed to the Maritime Command in 1968 when Paul Hellyer, who was then the Liberal minister of National Defence, unified the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force into a single structure with a single uniform.

The move proved widely unpopular among members of the Forces, and was never fully implemented. Over the years, much of the reorganization unravelled, and in 1985, the three services were again permitted to wear their own uniforms.

With the navy marking its the 100th anniversary this week, Mr. Rompkey decided it was time to undo some more of Mr. Hellyer’s work. His motion, seconded by Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, calls upon Defence Minister Peter MacKay to change the name to the Canadian Navy “as soon as possible.” It appears to have significant support across party lines.

“Everybody was in green for a while and then, gradually, everything started to come back to the original services and they were allowed to wear their uniforms, and other insignia was added,” Mr. Rompkey said.

“They are the Canadian Navy. What does Maritime Command mean? So the object is to call them what they are.”

In fact, even the Canadian Forces Maritime Command calls itself the Navy. One must search very hard on the service’s website to see any other name.

“This just in: we want to call the Canadian navy the Canadian Navy,” said Jack Harris, a New Democratic MP from Newfoundland. “I think most people refer to it as the Canadian Navy ... it is what it is.”


  1. Agree, it's only 2/3 of the way there. I'm hoping the plan is to get Canadian Navy without too much controversy and then it's an easy jump to requesting HM to grant the newly named Canadian Navy royal status. Long may the RCN sail the worlds oceans.


  3. It looks like Laurie Hawn MP Edmonton Centre is starting to BACKPEDDLE on his support. Here is his reponse to an email of mine on May 21,2010.

    Dear Dan,

    Thank you for your correspondence on adding the prefix “Royal” to the Canadian Navy and Canadian Air Force.

    The matter of reintroducing “Royal” to the names of the services has been reviewed many occasions with the interest and morale of the troops in mind. Using “Royal” as a title has never been taken away from the Canadian Forces. When the three services were united in 1968, the traditions and customs of the services were combined into the new Canadian Armed Forces. Moreover, some specific units have retained the “Royal” title.

    Indeed, the Government supports the unique features of each environment such as distinct uniforms and traditions. This is why we have re-introduced the executive curl and issued the sea service insignia for the Navy.

    At this time we are not anticipating any change to the Navy or Air Force name. With our Government aiming to begin the return to balanced budgets in the near future, Departmental funds will be spent on necessary equipment and personnel.

    Thank you once again for writing. It is my honour and privilege to be your voice in Ottawa and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly.

    If there is any way that my office can be of assistance to you in the future please do not hesitate to contact us.


    Laurie Hawn, MP
    Edmonton Centre
    Parliamentary Secretary to the
    Minister of National Defence

  4. That's quite unsatisfactory. I note that he uses Canadian Navy and Canadian Air Force although these are terms that have no standing in regulation or statute.

  5. This was my response to Mr. Hawn. I too noticed that he used the unofficial names of Air Force and Navy in his initial response.

    Dear Mr. Hawn,

    I was disappointed by your response (regarding the Petition to Reinstate the term "Royal" to the Canadian Navy and Air Force) that the Government is "not anticipating any change to the Navy or Air Force Name".

    You yourself have used the terms "Navy" and "Air Force" in your correspondance which are unofficial as you know.

    The correct names used currently are "Maritime Command" and "Air Command".

    Even officially calling these commands the Canadian Navy and Canadian Air Force would be a step forward.

    While I agree that the Government should concentrate on funding requirements to modernize and re-equip our Military - I am sure you are also aware any name change to these Commands would not involve much in the way of expenditure by the Government. The Petition to reinstate the term "Royal" does not call for any change to the command structure of the Integrated Canadian Forces. This is simply a name change of Maritime Command to the Royal Canadian Navy and Air Command to the Royal Canadian Air Force (And presumably Land Force would be changed back to the Canadian Army).

    I realize that there are indeed limitations imposed upon a Minority Government and what it can accomplish in Parliament - However I was saddened by your response and the apparent lack of political will on your part to support this cause.

    Dan R_______
    Capt (Ret'd)
    Canadian Forces


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.