Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced Tuesday Ottawa’s decision to restore the “Royal” moniker to the Canadian navy and air force. All in the name of embracing Canada’s “heritage”.
This uninformed race to the past unmasks the Conservatives. It exposes their dangerous parochialism and nationalistic tendencies. It limits Canada’s heritage to our gallant participation in World War 1 and World War 2. That colonialism is also our heritage the Conservatives are unaware.
The “Royal” forces defended the now-defunct British Empire and its shameless campaign of mass murder and conquest.
In 1968, Canada broke a few links in its Royal shackles. We moved a step toward national sovereignty. Liberal Defence Minister Paul Hellyer ditched the Royal designation when he merged the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Army. This was a progressive move by the government of peacenik Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. Canada embraced an enviable global peacekeeping and nation-building role.
But Canada didn’t completely ditch Her Majesty. A regal crown remained a distinguishing feature on the bages of the air force, navy and army. The bombastic names of our naval vessels never ditched the prefix HMCS – Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship. HMCS Tecumseh, for example.
And yet, the Conservatives’ rebranding is not just about embracing a receding past. It also affirms Canada’s new militaristic foreign policy. It glorifies the Canadian military’s robust military role in Canadian every day life under Harper.
There’s no better way to show disdain for Canada’s aspirations for full national sovereignty.