Rear Admiral attacks ‘hateful’ comments as navy seeks to abandon ‘sailor’


Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy responded to a series of online messages criticizing the military’s plan to drop the term ‘sailor’ by warning that there is no place in the force for sailors who subscribe to “hateful, misogynistic and racist” beliefs.Rear Admiral Chris Sutherland issued the warning in a Facebook post over the weekend as Sailors and members of the public are asked to vote on a new title for the younger members of the Navy by replacing ” sailor ”by a more neutral term.

“To those of you who currently serve with these beliefs, I would like to emphatically state that you have no place in our navy,” Sutherland said. “If you can’t live or support the values ​​of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, you can’t stand up for them.

Marines around the world have described their young sailors as “sailors” for decades, if not centuries, with the Royal Canadian Navy using “an ordinary sailor”, a “skilled seaman”, a “leading seaman” and a “master of the sea”. sea”.

But those terms are being replaced in Canada as the Navy – which is short of hundreds of sailors – is charting new waters to become more diverse and inclusive. Naval officers said the move was also meant to ensure junior members feel secure and proud of their ranks and jobs.

Members of the Navy as well as the general public have until Friday to vote online on two alternatives, with both variants replacing “sailor” with “sailor” in different ways.

We simply replace “sailor” by “sailor” in the existing ranks. The other would remove adjectives such as “capable” and “leader” in favor of labels such as “first class sailor” and “second class sailor”. There is also an option to suggest alternative terms.

Move considered late – and unjustified

But while the move has been applauded by some as being long overdue, there have also been varying degrees of criticism online, with some blasting what they see as a glut of political correctness and others decrying a loss of tradition. .

Some of these positions appear to have crossed a line for naval commanders.

Sutherland apologized for not speaking earlier, saying he “needed a minute to accept some of the comments that were posted”, before targeting not only the active duty sailors, but all of them. those who made “hateful, misogynistic and racist comments. ”

“I am shocked that you thought your comments would be acceptable, and that you could not recognize that those you denigrate are the same people who dedicate their lives to give you the freedom to comment,” he said without elaborating. the offense. posts.

“These comments remind us of our need to speak out against cowardly attacks like these and also remind us that we must take every opportunity to show our support for minority and marginalized groups. ”

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He then invited any sailor who wanted to know why the initiative is a priority for the navy – “and would like to engage in a constructive discussion on the subject” – to contact him directly.

The decision to ditch the “sailor” comes as part of a broader push by the military to become more representative of Canadian society, which includes the attempt to recruit more women, visible minorities and community members. LGBTQ while cracking down on hateful behavior.

At the same time, navy officials have hinted that the use of the “sailor” is a potential obstacle to recruiting at a time when the Navy is short of around 850 sailors. Officers have said they can manage the deficit for now, but are concerned about the long-term implications.


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