To quote Shakespeare: “What’s in a name?”
In 1968, Canada’s service branches were brought under one central command, renamed the Canadian Armed Forces. Conservative Defense Minister Peter MacKay announced today that the Maritime Command and Air Command will again be known as the Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force. The army will be called the Canadian Army, which is (arguably) easier to understand than what it was going under: Land Force Command.
Depending on one’s point of view this change is either a welcome return to tradition – which honors and recognizes Canada’s relationship to the monarchy – or a giant step backwards.
McKay called it the undoing of a historic mistake. The CBC reports NDP defense critic Jack Harris disagreed and characterized the move as:
… “unnecessary” and “divisive.” He told CBC News in an interview Monday that Canadians have pride in their military institutions because they are Canadian, not because of their attachment to the monarchy.
Veteran’s groups and military associations have reportedly supported the name change. According to this report in the Canadian Huffington Post, not all NDPers oppose restoring the word royal:
NDP veterans critic Peter Stoffer said he is full of praise for the Tories’ decision.
“Having the designation ‘royal’ … is a wonderful link to the past. It gives everyone who served in the army, navy and air force and served in various wars for King and Country and Queen and Country a real sense of pride,” said Stoffer.
“I think it is a great thing for the government to do and I thank them for it,” he added.