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Political push afoot to rename the Canadian navy

Members of the Force Protection onboard Her Majesty's Canadian Ship (HMCS) Halifax are getting ready to go ashore in Jacmel area.

Sgt Bruno Turcotte

Federal politicians of all stripes are voicing support for a Liberal senator's effort to change the name of the Canadian Forces Maritime Command to the one that most Canadians understand: the Canadian Navy.

"I think there's good support for it. I think that that's what the navy wants," Senator William Rompkey said Friday of the motion he introduced in the Red Chamber earlier this week.

"This is an opportunity to define the Canadian navy as it is. Those who are in the navy, and indeed those who served postwar, feel that they built the modern Canadian navy and that it should be called just that."

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Some Canadians will be surprised to learn that the Canadian navy is not called the Canadian Navy. The name was changed to the Maritime Command in 1968 when Paul Hellyer, who was then the Liberal minister of National Defence, unified the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force into a single structure with a single uniform.

The move proved widely unpopular among members of the Forces, and was never fully implemented. Over the years, much of the reorganization unravelled, and in 1985, the three services were again permitted to wear their own uniforms.

With the navy marking its the 100th anniversary this week, Mr. Rompkey decided it was time to undo some more of Mr. Hellyer's work. His motion, seconded by Conservative Senator Hugh Segal, calls upon Defence Minister Peter MacKay to change the name to the Canadian Navy "as soon as possible." It appears to have significant support across party lines.

"Everybody was in green for a while and then, gradually, everything started to come back to the original services and they were allowed to wear their uniforms, and other insignia was added," Mr. Rompkey said.

"They are the Canadian Navy. What does Maritime Command mean? So the object is to call them what they are."

In fact, even the Canadian Forces Maritime Command calls itself the Navy. One must search very hard on the service's website to see any other name.

"This just in: we want to call the Canadian navy the Canadian Navy," said Jack Harris, a New Democratic MP from Newfoundland. "I think most people refer to it as the Canadian Navy ... it is what it is."

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Gloria Galloway has been a journalist for almost 30 years. She worked at the Windsor Star, the Hamilton Spectator, the National Post, the Canadian Press and a number of small newspapers before being hired by The Globe and Mail as deputy national editor in 2001. Gloria returned to reporting two years later and joined the Ottawa bureau in 2004. More

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