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
Tuesday 16 August 2011
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Senator Joe Day,
Mr. Jerry Sigrist,
Men and women of the Canadian Forces,
Ladies and gentlemen,
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.