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Conservatives Killed the Maple Leaf Rank

07/10/2013 05:07 EDT | Updated 09/09/2013 05:12 EDT
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Like everything else in our modern country, the fabric of Canada is sewn with the unique trio of Aboriginal, French and British roots. That's what makes us unique. Our Canadian lingo is etched with our founding people's tongues. Our Canadian identity is wrapped in a flag that was chosen precisely for its inclusive nature. Our national symbol, the Maple Leaf, is sacred to all who love this country. The Maple Leaf, as the anthem goes, is forever.

Well, it was forever, until the Harper government decide to pledge allegiance to the Union Jack and all things British, over all things Canadian. For a man who vowed to "Stand up for Canada", Stephen Harper has knelt to all glyphs reminiscent of his favourite founding colonizer nation.

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No quarter given to the Maple Leaf rank designation

The Conservatives' latest casualty is the Maple Leaf rank designation. Like the merging British-Canada embassies, the Canadian Forces are slowly morphing into the imperial British form. Francophone Canadians be damned.

The ranks of non-commissioned officers will also be returned to the original British Army designations. Defence Minister Peter MacKay claims the changes don't strip away any Canadian identity. But that's exactly what it does. The overt penchant for saluting one founding nation to the exclusion of all others is a nod to the imperial slights of yesteryear.

Minister MacKay also claims the move strengthens the bond with the past. An obsession with the colonial past seems to be a recurring theme amongst Tories. Ah, the good ol' days! Before multiculturalism, official bilingualism, women's rights, and all those pesky policies that bequeathed Canadians' glowing hearts. It behooves a civilized society to respect its past without returning to it. From the Toronto Star:

The Harper government, over the last couple of years, has returned different branches of the military to their 1960s pre-amalgamation names, re-introducing the Royal designation to the air force and navy.

The Tory excuses seem to be more contradictory at every turn. The Canadian embassies were merged with British ones to supposedly to cut costs. Minister MacKay was curiously mum on the price tag to regress Canada's air force and navy's name to the "royal" designation.

Claims that the Maple Leaf rank designation was "confusing" have emerged online. When Canadians worked with our allies, they wondered how our funny-sounding ranking titles matched up with theirs. This gave way to a dialogue about our differences -- a conversation many of us have had with foreigners. No, we're not a clone of the British, nor are we copies of the United States. We drink pop, not soda. We stand in line-ups not queues. And it's pronounced Zed, not Zee.

We're distinct. We're unique. And so is our Maple Leaf rank designation.

The Harper government changed around the placement of flags on warships, moving the naval ensign -- which is closely associated with the Royal Navy -- back up to the mast and flying the Canadian flag from the bow whenever a ship was in port.

As the specificity of our Forces sinks like the original Bluenose, so does the Canadian identity. And it goes beyond our borders. Our men and women in uniform serve around the world. They are often our de facto ambassadors. Chipping away at the Canadian forces' monikers and symbols is an affront on the single unifying Canadian armour that is the Maple Leaf.

The Maple Leaf rank designation is as Canadian as poutine and hockey. Let's not throw away our uniqueness, eh.

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