Two years ago, the Conservative government restored the titles Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force to mixed reaction. In my opinion, bringing back those names made sense, as the titles are more meaningful than Maritime Force, Land Force and whatever it was they called the folks who flew aircraft. And sensibly, the restoration of the names does not devolve the RNC, Army and RCAF back into the separate entities that they were before Unification - all three remain components of the Canadian Forces. More recently, the RCN restored a nice distinction for officers' uniforms by reinstating the executive curl, a fancy loop in the officer's braid. Looks dashing and gives the sailors a reason to feel important.
And now the changes are going to go even further - the government wants to restore pre-1968 Army rank insignia. From 1968 to the present, all members of the Canadian Forces used the same system of rank insignia, regardless of whether they served on land, at sea or in the air. But now the Government wants to go back to a system that last existed before most current members of the Army were even born. I've not been able to find images of what the new/old insignia will look like, but according to the news report here
1. Maple leaves are to be eradicated from officers' rank insignia. Right now only generals are the only officers with maple leaves in their rank insignia (one for a brigadier, two for a major general, three for a lieutenant general and 4 for a full general). It's a nice way to add a distinctly Canadian twist to the international tradition of giving generals a number of stars or pips - why not leave our Canadian generals a nice Canadian distinction in their insignia?
2. Keeping uniform rank insignia across the three services allows instant recognition of who outranks whom. The forces have been unified since 1968 - why complicate things further?
3. Enlisted ranks are to be restored to pre-1968 titles and presumably insignia as well. This seems to me to be a waste of time as well. Let's keep the insignia as they are, with maple leaves above the hooks for sergeants and master corporals.
4. The reports say the rank of private will be replaced with guardsman for Guards regiments, rifleman for rifle regiments, sapper for military engineers, trooper for armoured corps and on and on. These titles are already in informal use, but for official purposes, they are all privates. Why muck about with changing every soldier's file to show that he is a private when in one unit, but must change to being a rifleman if he changes to a rifle unit or a fusilier or whatever? These distinct titles can and should be maintained as regimental or corps traditions, but there is no need to add an unnecessary administrative burden by making them formal ranks (really, they are more like appointments - see here for an explanation of the difference between ranks and appointments: http://canadiansoldiers.com/ranks/rank.htm )
5. One place where I would see a benefit to restoring an element of the pre-Unification ranks is with the ranks/appointments of Corporal and Master Corporal. Master Corporals have only been around since 1968, as before then they were known as corporals, the first of the leadership ranks. Apparently what happened was that privates who had achieved a certain level of technical skill were allowed to become corporals, which led to a need for a distinction between corporals with leadership positions, and corporals who were really more like technical specialists. The leadership corporals became master corporals. In my mind, only the soldiers with leadership roles should be called corporals; the other soldiers (privates with advanced skills) should be given another title.
6. One final thought - in the olden days, there was a distinction between where commissioned officers, warrant officers and enlisted members wore their rank insignia (shoulder/cuff/upper sleeve). With current operational uniforms, rank insignia is typically worn in the same location on the uniform - usually on a slip-on badge located above the soldier's sternum. I can see immediately that is likely to be confusion between warrant officers and majors - in the old system, both of these soldiers' insignia consisted of a crown, but confusion was averted due to the placement of the insignia. That will no longer be the case if both have to wear their crown insignia in the same location.
But then, as with every other decision made by the current government, they didn't ask my opinion.