Of logos and ensigns:
The author goes onto call for the return of the White Ensign as the flag of the Canadian Navy. We should also take this opportunity, being the Centennial year for the Navy, to remind our readers of the petition to once again add the qualifier Royal to the Canadian Navy. The fleet was known as the Royal Canadian Navy from its inception in 1910 until the unification of the services in 1968.
Yet the festivities started off on a jarring note. On January 1, a "naval centennial flag" was hoisted in all naval establishments across the country. It is apparently to be flown until December 31, 2010. In fact, the "flag" is not what military people would normally think of as a flag. It is simply a nylon banner bearing what the government describes in bureaucratese as a "project identifier" -- what ordinary folk would call a logo. It is exactly the sort of thing that one can see flying outside otherwise non-descript offices in business parks across the country.
The navy's website says that the aim of the centennial is "to build and strengthen in Canadians an appreciation for their navy and to promote the role of the navy within the Canadian Forces in a maritime nation like Canada." It is, in other words, a branding exercise. One supposes that it is part of what General Rick Hillier described in his recent autobiography as the mission to recruit the nation. But if the "centennial flag" is any indication of the depth with which the navy has thought it through, the project is doomed to fail. Indeed, it will most likely be largely forgotten by the time the year is out.
The dropping of the "Royal" was part of a deliberate campaign, waged since the Pearson government (1963-1968), to steadily efface the monarchy from Canadian society. The corporate logo "flag" does contain a crown - I think it's a crown - and a maple leaf and an anchor. It looks like a rummage sale poster. Someone, in an office building in downtown Toronto, was probably paid a lot of money to design it. But I digress. A country without a sense of its own past, and its own traditions, is a country liable to be suckered in by any passing fad. In Canada, tradition means the monarchy. A Canada where the monarchy has been faded to background dressing, is a country that will not reflexively protest such a bland insult to our naval tradition.