Do we need a royal debate?

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When the Canadian government decided in 1968 to remove the word royal from its armed forces there was lots of opposition, especially among those men and women who had served in war and peacetime. For many of those, the decision Tuesday to return the word to the navy and air force moniker will be welcome.

However, perhaps unknowingly the government has reopened the debate about the role of the monarchy in Canada’s affairs and whether using the term compromises our nation’s sovereignty and the desire among some to cut the apron strings to Britain once and for all.

During a ceremony on Tuesday, Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced the Maritime Command and Air Command will again be known as the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. The army will be renamed the Canadian Army.

“Our government believes that an important element of Canadian military heritage was lost when these three former services were required to relinquish their historic titles,” the minister said.

The move has been applauded by those who support continued ties with the Royal Family and builds on the successful and very popular visit last month by Prince William and his new bride. It is also being applauded by the Royal Canadian Legion that said the move reaffirms the tradition and the armed forces’ links with the Crown.

As popular as the return is to some, there are detractors – including former defence minister Paul Hellyer, the man who led the change as part of the Pierre Trudeau government.

To Hellyer, reusing the royal term returns Canada’s air force and navy to “semi-colonial status while the New Democrats were quick to call it a divisive issue that really shouldn’t be a priority for the government.

There is little doubt this issue is going to be a divisive one in whether we need to continue to hold on to those apron strings at a time when many Canadians are hoping and praying another recession doesn’t take their jobs or another market meltdown doesn’t wipe out their savings.

Organizations: Maritime Command, Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Air Force Canadian Army Royal Canadian Legion

Geographic location: Canada, Britain

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  • Lucille Gora
    August 19, 2011 - 15:42

    There is a continued Anglo-Canadian myopia in this action to return the term "royal" to the titles of our armed services. The British monarchy granted the 'royal' title as a crumb to the colonies to maintain Imperial control. This action implies that our Canadian troups aren't good enough unless under continued English rule. So this action undermines Canadian pride and patriotism. I am neither English or French, I am one of the other hundred thousand other Canadians whose ancestry comes Poland, Russia, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Indian, etc. My father and uncle fought in WWII and Korea for CANADA, not the British Empire. This action disenfranchises and insults all those service men and women who are not Anglo, yet serve their country. I am Canadian and have no interest in England or its monarchy. I find using the term "royal" an insult to my national pride. Furthermore, why is a democratic nation supporting a monarchy system? The monarchy system reinforces social bigotry and belongs in the 19th century, not the 21st century. The excuse that is provides some historic pride is nonsense. Historically, the British Navy would flog and hang their seamen to keep order on the high seas. Will that also be reinstated to fulfill some historic need? I hope not. Canada is making its own history and doesn't need to borrow from a foreign country. Lastly, the cost of changing tthe titles on ensignias, equipment, building signs, stationery, etc. is coming out of the taxpayer dollar. In these unstable economic times, how can the government think this is the best way to spend our money? What about our hospitals, schools, roads and infra-structures that need support and repair? I hope Canadians will see that this is a bad idea and tell the government to stop it.