Opinion Column

Stephen Harper puts the Queen back in 'Canadian'


Monarchy is not a rebrand, it's our identity.

There's been a lot of talk lately about Harper's alleged crusade to rebrand Canadian identity. Did he declare sushi as the national food, plant palm trees on Parliament Hill and start promoting wind surfing as the national sport?

No. Those things would actually loosely fall into the category of a rebrand.

So what exactly is this scary, ideological re-shaping of 'all we hold dear as Canadians' mission Harper is on? Brace for it: emphasizing the monarchy.

Things like hanging portraits of the Queen in federal government buildings, restoring the 'Royal' name to Canada's armed forces and hosting the royals for two consecutive Canada Day celebrations are apparently the thin edge of the wedge towards Canada's identity makeover.

Except, it's not an identity makeover, because the monarchy is part of Canada's identity. If anything, the attempts by previous governments to downplay Canada's heritage has been a rebranding. The fact that anyone would perceive the hanging of a portrait of Canada's head of state in our federal government buildings as the reshaping of our national identity means that previous attempts to rebrand and shed history have been, at the least, mildly successful.

The lack of portraits of Her Majesty the Queen in our government buildings is embarrassing. The only portrait that hangs in Rideau Hall, the official residence of the Governor General, is one painted by Quebec artist Jean Paul Lemieux in 1979, in which the Queen and Duke of Edinburough are distastefully depicted in civilian clothes, standing in front of an abstract-looking Parliament Hill. In 2006, I was a tour guide at Rideau Hall for the summer, and school children were unable to even recognize the people in this portrait. In fact, many students seemed to have very little, if any, understanding of our monarchy or British heritage.

Why stop at federal buildings? A portrait of Her Majesty should be placed in every school.

Our heritage is the core of our identity, and it should be celebrated and highlighted.

Thank you Harper, for bringing the monarchy back.