Harper also is expected to restore British insignia and rank designations to our air force and navy.
“This takes nothing away from the Maple Leaf,” Defence Minister Peter MacKay said defensively in making the official announcement on Monday.
“There are other places which the Maple Leaf is honoured,” he added, insisting the move is merely a return to tradition and in no way diminishes Canada’s image as an independent nation.
How does this not hurt our image?
With this change, Harper has taken the main distinctive Canadian symbol off our military uniforms, the one the world would instantly recognize as “Canada.”
And why order the change at all? There was no obvious pressure either from the public or the military to make the switch, especially after 45 years of having our own insignia and military ranks.
It’s especially odd given all the issues facing the military at this time, particularly the huge budget cuts that are coming and the growing concerns over the military’s handling of personnel returning from Afghanistan.
The real answer likely lies with Harper’s love affair with British symbols and traditions.
When “Royal” was put back into the navy and air force names, MacKay said it was done to correct a “mistake,” a reference to the 1968 decision made by the Liberal government as part of its program to unify the forces.
As Harper moves to promote our outdated British ties with silly moves such as ridding the army of the Maple Leaf insignia, most Canadians have long tired of honouring the British royalty and traditions.
On Friday, for instance, lawyers will argue in a Toronto courtroom that it is against the Charter to force applicants for citizenship to swear or affirm allegiance to the Queen and her heirs based on their belief that the “monarchy is an anti-democratic relic of the past.”
Also, Democracy Watch, a non-profit citizens’ group, launched a national petition two weeks ago to elect U.S. comedian Stephen Colbert as “King of Canada.” The gimmicky campaign is aimed at getting Canadians to think seriously about replacing the Queen with an elected head of state.