Flashback to…

Flashback to 1999…

Mr. David Pratt: I have another quick question on the issue of demilitarization. One of the things we’ve heard over the last couple of years has been the problem with what has been described as “careerism” within the Canadian Forces. Do you see those two issues linked?

Col Sean Henry: Well, it’s strange you should mention that, because I was going to hand this out, but I thought the chairman might cut me off.

On the front page of this, we have an advertisement for the Royal Military College of Canada that appeared in Maclean’s magazine. As you know, Maclean’s will not include RMC as one of its universities, so DND spends money on advertisements. This is page one. There are actually four pages.

I would like to ask you whether or not what you see there causes you to think that RMC is a military operation. There’s one person there in a military uniform, but you will note that person doesn’t have a rifle, which you would normally expect. At the bottom, you see people in sweatsuits. I know for a fact that they don’t go to classes at RMC in sweatsuits. But as far as we are concerned, if there is careerism, that’s where the problem starts, because RMC is supposed to be the focus of implanting the military ethic in the minds of new officer cadets. The same thing goes for Saint-Jean with the other ranks.

In our estimation, demilitarization, some of the reasons having to do with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and others, starts there. And there it is. That’s demilitarization-a perfect example.

On the back, just to go off a bit, there’s a report of a new program heading down the road, and you can be sure that DND is going to have its arm twisted to fully conform to this program, which probably doesn’t have an awful lot of military significance. But time, effort, and money are going to have to be spent on it.

Going back to the question that was asked, careerism occurs when people in the military have virtually given up. Let’s face it, let’s be realistic: we’re all human beings and we all have self-interest. It occurs in certain people more than others. But if you have a proper military organization, where the military ethic and the service before self has been created in people’s minds, it will be far less of a problem. Over the past 30 years, because of the corrosion of the military ethic and service before self, and because of demilitarization in the armed forces, the careerism factor has become more of a problem. This is not very useful in solving it.

4270 Colonel (Ret’d) Sean Henry (RRMC RMC ’59)



Flashback to 1995…

Orders of the Day of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia Wednesday, March 22, 1995

Mr. Kasper to move — Be it resolved that this House strongly condemn the Government of Canada’s unfair decision to close five defence installations in British Columbia, including the Royal Roads Military College, resulting in the elimination of nearly 900 civilian and military jobs; and be it further resolved that this House, noting the reputation of academic excellence offered at the Royal Roads Military College during its fifty-five year history, and in light of the recent $20 million upgrade, urge the Government of Canada to re-examine the utility of closing the only military college in Western Canada, affecting 230 civilian and military jobs.

Extract from the ORDERS OF THE DAY OF THE Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, March 22nd 1995


Flashback to 1960/1962…

4174 Lieutenant John David Hessin (RRMC ’59) joined the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regiment on graduation from the Royal Military College in May 1959. He was selected for training as a pilot in May 1960 and joined his course in Rivers, Manitoba at that time. Lieutenant Hessin was, unfortunately, killed in an aircraft accident during his last week of training 7/31/1960. Lieutenant Hessin’s fiancée, Miss Mary Jean Borden, presented a memorial sword to the Regiment with the following inscription: “This Sword presented to Lord Strathcona’s Horse by Mary Jean Borden in memory of her fiancé Lieutenant J. David Hessin. To be awarded annually to the subaltern of the Regiment who in the judgement of his fellow officers has displayed the highest qualities of leadership, integrity and ability.” The sword, first presented in 1962, is presented during the annual Moreuil Wood parade. The name of the recipient is suitably engraved on the plaque of the memorial sword that is now kept in the Mariner Room (Officers’ Rest Area).

Hessin Memorial Sword

Source: Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental Manual © Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Regimental Society, 2004


  • 4135 George W. Hosang

    December 2, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I respectfully submit a few corrections to the article about the Lord Strathcona memorial for Dave Hessin. We were friends in the Scouting groups at St. Clements church in north Toronto before high school days. He was a member of the (my)graduating class of RMC of 1958. Although the College, to its credit, subsequently has admitted young women, that was not the case in those days and Dave must be considered a “fiance”, not a “fiancee”.

  • Sean Henry

    December 2, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Much water has flowed under the bridge since I made the above comments to the Defence Committee regarding demilitarization and careerism in the CF. On the one hand improvements have occurred; on the other, there are still grounds for concern regarding the portrayal of military service in Canada — especially related to officer training at RMC/CMR. In the first case, there is now extensive in-house instruction in the finer points of Truth, Duty, Valour in light of ethics, service before self, and development of the Warrior spirit. In the second case, advertising material for RMC/CMR still focusses the demilitarization problem. It stresses the “free education” aspect vs obligations, and does not make any references or visual images portraying combat operations — or even weapons of any kind.

    Cases in point are the two publications put out by Maclean’s: University Rankings and, Guide to Universities. RMC now rates a place in the latter and the contents are not too bad. But the photo leaves much to be desired. It could be interpreted as a motley crew of rabble — as usual without firearms! Surely a photo could be presented showing something more inspiring, such as the colour guard with the cadet wing the background –all in scarlets.

    It is the former that is now of great concern. It contains a colourful insert depicting the CF and the opportunity to qualify as officers at RMC/CMR. Problem is it stresses free education and a guaranteed job. Nothing on fighting for Canada. Although the people are shown in uniforms, there are no weapons displayed, and all the activities shown are not distinctly military. They concentrate on humanitarian ops and administrative tasks. There are a number of reasons for this. First, in 1973 a Treasury Board Directive was published stating that DND was to be treated as “just another government department.” By implication this means that members of the CF are merely civil servants in uniform. Second, during the Chretien era a policy was in place whereby military ops of the CF were all but hidden from view in visual material. Finally, the DND recruiting system relies heavily on civilian advertising firms, who do not understand the concelpt of military service. All of this is symbolized by the collage of photos on the front of the brochure: an army truck; an airforce Griffon helicopter; an indistinct image of a frigate — and fishing trawler! Inside it gives the impression that officers going to RMC can learn to be truck drivers (your read that right).

    Most bizarre of all, on the final page it talks about becoming a technical-trained Leading Seaman in the Navy.

    I have passed these observations on to the RMC Club executive and to the College chain-of-command, and recommended that appropriate changes be made. Time will only tell whether this will happen.