Canada's navy and air force regained their traditional royal names on Tuesday as Canada's pro-monarchy Conservative government continued its efforts to promote a more conservative national identity.
Defense Minister Peter MacKay said they will again officially be known as the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force. MacKay said the change is intended to help those in uniform reconnect with their historic past.
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who leads Canada's most pro-monarchy government since the 1950s, has been shifting the country's ideological bearings from center-left to center-right _ a project that lays greater stress on such traditional symbols as the monarchy, the military, hockey and the Arctic.
A Liberal government removed the royal label from the military in 1968 when the military's three main branches were unified under the banner of the Canadian Forces. They were called Maritime Command, Air Command and Land Force Command. Land Force Command will now be called the Canadian army.
"Our Conservative government believes that an important element of the Canadian military heritage was lost when these three former services were required to relinquish their historic titles," MacKay said. "Sometimes I think it's important to correct historic mistakes."
Tom Freda, a co-founder of for Citizens for a Canadian Republic, called the name change a backward move designed to appeal to conservative traditionalists.
"This isn't the 1950s, nor do we have 1950s values," Freda said. "Canada has been accustomed to moving away from colonialist symbols, not toward them."