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 Because the Royal Honour has never been withdrawn by HM the Queen and only she has the authority to do that, the title still applies, though implicit, to the continuing naval and air forces within the Canadian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:

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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.