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Friday, December 03, 2010

A Royal Pain

Following the fleet:

Canada’s navy has told former sailors to shut up about changing the naval forces’ name back to Royal Canadian Navy, a senior officer testified Monday.

“The navy has sort of said to the Naval Officers' Association of Canada: Do not push it. We have bigger fish to fry and we do not want to get everybody upset about something that we can live without,” retired Cmdr. Chris Thain, president of the Winnipeg branch of the Naval Officers Association of Canada, told a Senate committee.

Canada’s navy is officially called Maritime Command.

Nothing stirs the blood quite like "Maritime Command."A cold, military bureaucratic bit of terminological exactitude. Like calling your mother "parental unit one." One wonders a what and a where about these bigger fish. Surely men with destroyers should not be concerned about fish, however big. Perhaps the problem is with the mammals located in Ottawa.

All large organizations, even ones that do useful things like the military, are bureaucracies. A bureaucrat is accountable to the system he inhabits, not whomever the system is intended to serve. The paper-shuffler yearns not to shuffle paper, but to rule those who shuffle it. To reach that lofty perch he must conform to the attitudes and views of his masters. In turn he will expect similar obedience from his subordinates. At a basic level it's the only way a large organization could work, without degenerating into anarchy. The problem emerges when the cogs forget they are also human beings, living in something greater than a bureaucratic mechanism.

The current crop of officers in the Canadian Forces is now two generations removed from Hellyerification. Those officers who opposed this "reform" of our military were sacked, or found their careers stalled. No minister of the crown wants to hear his subordinates tell him: "No, Minister." In other departments subterfuge - a la Sir Humphrey Appleby - is used to thwart ministers. Soldiers, sailors and airmen are a simple lot. Talking out of both sides of your mouth is poor military leadership. It is, of course, an essential attribute of a modern politician.

The politicians appoint - whatever the official promotion workflow - the generals, who appoint the colonels and so on down the line. The new and improved Hellyerized Canadian Forces had very little place for customs and traditions, the rites of passage and confirmation that create regimental identities. Away went the distinctive service uniforms, replaced by a drab olive green, for a time even the system of ranks was changed. Ship captains were called Colonels-at-Sea. While the uniforms and the ranks came back, the Royal part of the name has yet to.

To men who risk life and limb, these tangible bits of their identity were taken away, out of some zealous desire for administrative conformity. The greatest victim of these modernizing jacobins was the monarchy. The dropping of the terms "Royal" from the navy and air force was a not so subtle way of cutting Canada off from its past. Whereas other nations try to build traditions, as a way of strengthening a sense of national identity, the Canada of the 1960s decided to do away with as many traditions as possible. The quest for modernity took the form of a systematic amnesia. Now the amnesiacs who run Canada, and the military, are trying to prevent us from recovering one small, but important bit of what was lost.

Posted by Richard Anderson on December 3, 2010 | Permalink


I was at a local government reception on a Canadian Frigate a decade ago and commented to the young X.O. about him being a Lieutenant (pronounced leftenant) Commander, "it's good to see our sailors are back to naval ranks" and his reaction was ambivalent, echoing what you said about two generations of officers with no memory of pre-Hellyered armed forces.

Trudeau tried and was successful in erasing much of the Anglo-Canadian historical traditions from the Dominion and the military in particular (through Hellyer). Now, happily he is history and the Dominion is ever so slowly recovering.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-12-03 10:34:51 AM

Always wonder if the vindictiveness of Messrs Pearson and Hellyer in making all three services wear those ridiculous American-style uniform was that the RCN had been warning Ottawa of American ambitions in the Arctic since 1933! Guess the RCN was right.

Posted by: Rory | 2010-12-03 10:43:43 AM

They were more like rent-a-cop uniforms.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-12-03 11:00:24 AM

Great post with which I totally concur. You are spot on in that it was not simply a matter of a name change, for it was a tactic to deny and erase our roots and traditions. The Pearson flag was just the beginning and Trudeau's charter was the icing on the cake for the creation of a mythical multicultural, socialist, balkanised geographical area whose national identity is defined by being anti-American.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-12-03 11:14:23 AM

Completely agree. It's interesting the the quality of the WS blog has improved once brock etc. have gone.

Posted by: The Stig | 2010-12-03 1:54:01 PM

The Stig The best improvement is not having to read comments from those two clowns 419 and Shane Matthews.

Posted by: don b | 2010-12-03 5:06:49 PM

Still sore Donnnie Bee about coming in dead last in the discussios about Marc Emery getting shipped off to prison? You have my sympathy, herem have a kleenex. Well you have five years to get over it, same as your hero the Prince of Pot.

You know you don't have to read other people's comments if it hurts your feelings so much to be run over. You could always take up a hobby to heal your Boo Boo. Maybe a hand stitched comemorative quilt. a little gold spray paint and some assorted pasta shapes would go a long way in the restoring your self confidence dept.

Posted by: 419 | 2010-12-03 6:13:51 PM

Matthews is hardly a clown. He's one of the best attractions on this site. In case you didn't know this, the reason for having a site is to attract visitors. Take a look at the number of hits, when Matthews joins the discussion.

Posted by: dp | 2010-12-03 6:14:17 PM

Right you are, dp. I do not always share Shane's views but they are always well articulated and stand up to close scrutiny which is more than one can say about the broken record crowd whose only interest is pot.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-12-03 6:21:40 PM

The fact that our Navy is headquartered in Ontario should be cause for concern. Probably because we only have a token Navy. Goes along with the problem that we have more Generals than Tanks in the Army and could not put one single Division into the field if we had to. I believe our entire airforce has about 70 flyable outdated fighter planes to protect the country.Legacy of our"True North Strong and Free" Liberal party.
Good thing we have southern neighbors to cover our collective asses. It would not be in their best interest to see us fly any flag other than theirs or ours.

Posted by: peterj | 2010-12-03 8:35:10 PM

Matthews is a good writer, but so was Hitler. They share one thing in common there both insane.

Posted by: don b | 2010-12-04 11:39:32 AM

Hitler was not a particularily good writer Donnie bee.. but thanks for your observations.
You always manage to fullfill our expectations of you..

BTW... have you written to Marc Emery yet or contributed to his deodourant fund?

Posted by: 419 | 2010-12-04 2:09:38 PM

The real problem is that we have abused the Canadian armed forces! Doing away with the word Royal was both stupid and unnecessary to begin with. I have no problem with the navy being called the Royal Canadian Navy , the army being called the Royal Canadian Army, or the air force being called the Royal Canadian Air Force. However, the bigger faults are that we have spent the last 50 years(until Afghanistan) using the armed forces to both push political correctness and take funds from the defense budget to spend on wasteful Liberal social welfare projects. Until Afghanistan, we only seem to have thought of our armed forces on national holidays(or whenever there was a contingent in a parade). We only deployed them overseas as U.N. peacekeepers where their hands were often tied. The Canadian left tried to instill fears of American dominance but noticeably quieted down whenever talk of strengthening our armed forces arose. Afghanistan has proved that Canada needs a mobile force that can be readily deployed. It also showed some glaring supply problems that we have. For instance, should Canada really be reduced to loaning out tanks from foreign nations? Or what about the fact that we originally were unable to transport our own troops to Afghanistan? How about the fact that many of our seriously wounded soldiers rely on the help of the American medical help at Ramstein air base? Unlike the left, I don't feel threatened by the Americans. Like I said, we have badly screwed our military. Yet, I haven't seen any American tank columns advancing deep into Saskatchewan. Nor have I seen the 82nd Airborne jumping into Ottawa.The time has come for Canadians to decide whether or not we are a truly independent country. A real independent country can defend itself and doesn't piggyback off our neighbors. Which are we? Are we a nation that says that we are independent but puts our freedom in the good graces of the Americans? Or are we adults who understand that an independent Canada needs a strong military that can act independently! If the answer is number 2, then we need to reevaluate our needs. For instance, is 90,000 personnel enough to secure Canadian sovereignity without foreign assistance or not? What about our equioment? How many functioning air wings should we have and what type of aircraft should we employ? Should we increase our sub numbers to better control our artic regions or would certain new surface ships be more feasible? What upgrades are needed to our armor and artillery forces? Should Canadian forces be specialized to only certain select types of environments(ex: australian forces are especially trained in jungle and desert fighting)like artic and northern european conventional style warfare?? What effect would building a new aircraft carrier have on our naval defense plans? In Switzerland, many men are allowed to keep their service weapons at home. Should Canada do the same? What about things like making it easier for citizens in the northern regions to keep automatic weapons in their home(for both self defense and to repel invaders with)? Should the provinces and territories be given more power to establish militias for homeland defense? Should Canadian police officers be given some training in sabotage and guerrilla warfare(in the event of invasion. Much like some U.S. officers were in WW2)? If we agree that the Canadian armed forces need to be significantly increased then how do we do that? Do we do more significant benefits? Do we need to go to some kind of draft with no student deferment? Do we make enlisting in the military a speedier path to citizenship for immigrants? These are just some of the questions that we might want to be thinking about. A strong military is crucial to a free and independent Canada!

Posted by: Elmer | 2010-12-04 8:17:50 PM

A real independent country can defend itself and doesn't piggyback off our neighbors

Posted by: Elmer | 2010-12-04 8:17:50 PM

We are entirely reliant on the US. Being outnumbered 10 to 1 and our neighbors owning most of our industry, it would not be realistic to try to compete militarily. Our borders are secure for two reasons. We are joined at the hip in industry and any country threatning us would be seen as a threat to the US. You are certainly correct in the assumption that we could do more to pull our own weight. Our forces although admired in the field are a joke on a national scale. A mere shadow of the load we carried in WW2 when we punched well above our weight. We have become complacent because big brother has been looking out for us and the Liberals have taken full advantage of this. We do the best with what we have, and that's not much. The biggest joke is in our national anthem. "The true north, strong and free". We are free at the mercy of our neighbors and that will not change in the forseeable future. Canadians seem to love knocking the US on almost all subjects but I for one am damned glad they are there, warts and all.

Posted by: peterj | 2010-12-04 10:52:27 PM

Ultimately, the only sound option is to privatize the military. Blackwater Security in the US, while it has been a favour whipping boy of liberals, is a shining example of a successful, for profit military operation. There agents are better paid, better equipped, and better trained than any military the world over. I have no doubt that if Blackwater was given free rein in Iraq, there would be no more troubles there.

Posted by: AB Patriot | 2010-12-05 10:40:25 AM

Ultimately, the only sound option is to privatize the military.
Posted by: AB Patriot | 2010-12-05 10:40:25 AM

No government would do this because it shifts all power into private hands, which could overthrow the reigning government at their whim. A private
army that could threaten government would never be tolerated. Numerically, Blackwater is a very small player and they must follow rules/regulations laid down by field commander or their contract can be terminated immediately.

Posted by: peterj | 2010-12-05 3:56:39 PM

I suppose it would be to simple to just call it "The Canadian Navy"?

Adding "Royal" is silly and only invites further inferiority complexes upon us.

Posted by: The LS from SK | 2010-12-05 6:45:53 PM

I'm afraid we're stuck with the "Royal". I doesn't look like Canada has the desire for a republic any time soon.

Posted by: dp | 2010-12-06 9:33:30 AM

The LS from SK, I respectfully disagree with your comment. Keeping, not adding, Royal is simply accurately reflecting the heritage and founding of Canada. That such a fact would invite further inferiority complexes is like claiming one has an inferiority complex due to his parents. I may also add that the "inferiority complex" syndrome began to show itself under Liberal leadership beginning with the Pearson flag.

dp, I am quiet proud that we are not a republic. Becoming a republic would not solve our problems. Take a good and close look at how things are going south of the border under the Democrats.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-12-06 7:02:26 PM

Alain- The advantage of a republic is the ability to right itself. Our parliamentary system appears to be entering a habitual cycle of minority governments. This seems to be the same path every other parliament in the modern world has gone down.

Posted by: dp | 2010-12-06 10:01:45 PM

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