Watch above: Military uniform debate in Canada
SASKATOON – For James Beaulieu and Paul Wheeler, a soldier’s uniform is a symbol of pride and allegiance.
Both are local members of the Canadian Army Veterans Motorcycle Unit and were taken aback when they heard soldiers across the country were told to stop wearing their uniforms in public while off-duty.
“This is the first time in my knowledge of military history in Canada that order has ever been issued, even in active theaters of combat,” said Beaulieu.
The directive prohibits military members from taking public transit, stopping by grocery stores or appearing in any public places while in uniform.
“The extreme majority – if not all of the Canadian soldiers that we have serving – past and present, are very proud of this uniform, and we wear it for a reason,” Beaulieu explained.
“I would say almost 98 per cent of those who have been on Facebook, have said that now is probably ‘the time’ to show your uniform’,” said Wheeler.
Dale Hyde is also a Canadian Armed Forces veteran and says soldiers know what they’re risking when they sign up for the job.
Chief of the Defence Staff General Tom Lawson said the directive is not about hiding or intimidation, it’s about taking sensible precautions.
Some family members of soldiers agree.
“It’s a safety thing. With so much of my family being in the military at one point or another, honestly I wouldn’t want them to wear their uniform either, just because then they’re basically a target,” said Allie James, who comes from a Saskatchewan military family.