RESTORATION OF ROYAL DESIGNATIONS TO THE NAVY AND AIRFORCE
A PETITION TO PARLIAMENT
If you believe in the restoration of “Royal” to the Navy & Air Force, please complete the petition and send it on-line.
A PETITION TO PARLIAMENT UNDER THE LEADERSHIP OF GREGORY BENTON TO RESTORE THE ROYAL DESIGNATIONS TO THE NAVY AND AIR FORCE.
We are indebted to Kay Collacut, co-editor of the Shearwater Aviation Museum Foundation News for the heads up on the petition for restoration of "Royal" titles to our Navy and Air Force. This can be accessed on-line at http://www.gopetition.com/online/12281.html. See especially Gregory Benton's commendable and constructive foreword of May 22, 2007 to the formal petition and the exchange of communications with supporter, Laurie Hawn, MP. Edmonton.
Some personal views follow in retrospect from my attendance with other officers at a meeting with Rear Admiral William Landymore in Halifax before his appeal to Prime Minister Pearson and later as a witness to the ad hoc and often chaotic "process" of unification in 1966 to 1970 at NDHQ.
Old taboos and naiveté from the Paul Hellyer Follies have been slowly but surely disappearing under the sheer weight of common sense, this has accelerated with the emergence and example of more courageous moral leadership under the new Minister and CDS. One was the failed attempt by the party jumping Liberal-Conservative-Canada Action former MND to combine the three Services into one big happy monolithic, green suited family, "free of triplications and their divisive loyalties, counterproductive self-interests and traditions". The terms "Army, Navy and Air Force" were totally verboten, referred to sparingly if at all as the "land, sea and air elements". In abolishing, breaking up and reforming their remnants into a surging swamp of "functional commands", our reckless, reality challenged Minister overlooked a minor embarrassment. And that was the continuing need for a coherent army, navy and air force, however disguised by juvenile labeling and unopposed by a politically correct, go-along to get along minority. Not to worry about a few discrepancies in his overall grand and brilliant plan. Not short at least on hubris, Hellyer hilariously predicted his inspired de sign would be "the wave of the future, and adopted by all other enlightened western nations” Pity, only in Canada!
Tragically, this ignored the wiser evolutions in Britain and Australia in military interoperability, organization and efficiency without loss of service identity, pride and commitment. While there was broad justified support of "integration" on common logistics and training, it was left to Rear Admiral "Bill" Landymore to be the sacrificial lamb in the struggle to retain the recognition, distinction and traditions that are the foundation of family, pride and fighting spirit in each of the three "environmental" professions of arms. The rest is history, a costly lesson and a harsh judgment of some who failed to stand up to the plate when duty called.
Hellyer succeeded in stripping the Navy and Air Force of their royal designations and colours. But he came up hard against the Army's proud regimental families, with great histories of service stretching back to pre-Confederation days, like the Royal Canadian Regiment. The latter will commemorate its 150th birthday in 2010, coincidentally the Centennial year of the Navy. Hellyer apparently encountered and swiftly retreated from a hornet's nest of political reaction to the mere suggestion of stripping their royal designations and honours as well, including those of the famed "Vandoos". Nor wisely, did he dare strip the title of "Her Majesty's Canadian Ships".
Forty years later, his disastrous makeover has yet to be fully addressed, along with its later "enhancement" by others with the abolition of CFHQ and integration of civil and military divisions in NDHQ. But relatively enormous strides in rebuilding and transformation to the needs of the post-9/11 era have followed in one year alone with the leadership by General Rick Hillier and the change in government. Today, however, we are still left with some anomalies and contradictions as well as serious deficiencies in manpower, equipment replacement and funding.
Each service has regained distinctive uniforms and public recognition and pride by Canadians for what they have been and will always be - soldiers, sailors and airmen. Powerful professional and family leaderships at the Chiefs level in NDHQ again head them. Each is now openly referred to as "the Army, Navy and Air Force" by the Service Chiefs, though the first two still bear the hesitant titles of Chief of the Maritime Staff, and Chief of Land Force Staff". As noted in Jack Granatstein's autopsies, "Who Killed Canadian History?" and "Who Killed the Canadian Military?" There are many, especially since the flood of immigration and rise of multi-culturism with little knowledge and interest in our heritage, constitutional monarchy or our Forces. That may change with greater emphasis on citizenship and national history by federal policies and our educational systems. Meanwhile, few of these seem much disposed to rip the royal designation and scarlet tunics from Canada's indigenous and legendary "Mounties".
Among the strongest inducements to join and remain in the Forces are the distinction, pride, and sense of family in belonging to one of the most exclusive and unique professions. More than the also once colonial United States, Canada is one of the few nations with strong roots in a monarchy and its evolution. These have survived the test of a thousand years and given us a rich heritage of unparalleled contribution to freedom and world development under parliamentary democracy. Along with Britain, Australia and New Zealand of the Commonwealth, the colourful and unique "Royal" designations give our Forces a national and worldwide recognition and regard that is priceless. There is nothing like a name rather than a number, particularly with royal colours and a prefix, to identify and inspire each of our Services and their fighting units as the proud descendents of a magnificent heritage.
It is indeed time to acknowledge and honour an enduring reality. Make the recognition of the Army, Navy and Air Force official and restore their royal titles and colours.