EXCLUSIVE: Two senior military brass now embroiled in sexual harassment scandals were behind the push to rename navy ranks to be more inclusive.
One hundred pages of access to information documents reveal the rushed planning and progressive worries of the militaries upper ranks to be more gender-neutral and progressive.
In August 2020, the Royal Canadian Navy, as part of its role as the “progressive employer” did away with long-standing rank titles in favour of ones free from gender bias. The press release from the time stated:
The RCN’s junior ranks will soon be known as Sailor Third Class (formerly Ordinary Seaman), Sailor Second Class (formerly Able Seaman), Sailor First Class (formerly Leading Seaman), and Master Sailor (formerly Master Seaman).
By ensuring that the RCN continues to be an accepting and inclusive organization, we can demonstrate to Canadians that we uphold the values they hold as the RCN continues to protect them, both at home and abroad.
General Jonathan Vance and his replacement as Chief of Defence Staff, Vice Admiral Art McDonald, both facing allegations of engaging in inappropriate sexual relationships with female subordinates, also thought the silver cross mother destination should be rebranded as "silver cross parent" and wanted to pursue moving to "gender-neutral uniforms."
An email from McDonald to staff detailed the inspiration for fixing what wasn't broken. The rushed-out rank re-names were prompted from a feeling inside himself, and not something female sailors had asked him for:
On reflection, after seeing a naval reserve female sailor recently promoted to Able Seaman, I was inspired to investigate the process and simultaneously consult with my senior staff regarding need desirability and potential alternative titles.
Bureaucrats also noted the word “ordinary” was not “forward-thinking/progressive enough” and insisted the rank changes be run through a GBA+ analysis, the Liberals flag-ship policy which puts any government project through a gender-based assessment.
The quest to eliminate gendered language from military mouths included military bureaucrats wanting to come up “with a gender-neutral deferential greeting-address”, rather than the conventional sir and ma'am.
The documents also show that the military sought Facebook survey data from the general public as proof the former rank names needed to go.
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READ THE FIRST HALF OF THE DOCUMENTS HERE
READ THE SECOND HALF OF THE DOCUMENTS HERE