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INSULT: Government agency rebrands Canada “Harper Canada”

Damn it, Janet! It’s not the Harper Government. It’s the Government of Canada. And so it shall forever remain.

By Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive:

You know the power of a dictator-style personalty cult is at work when a federal agency rebrands a country in the name of the great and Dear Leader, Stephen Harper. A news release the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) posted online earlier today carried the Harper-centric headline:

“HARPER CANADA INVESTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE FOR MUNICIPALITY OF ARGYLE”

Harper Canada - ACOA Insult

The release has since been corrected.

This isn’t a gaffe as some corporate media apologists would have you believe. The insult is consistent with Harper’s plan to transform Canada into a cowered, authority-fearing petro-state. A little while back, Allan Gregg, a prominent media commentator and strategist for the Progressive Conservatives under Brian Mulroney, suggested that Canada under Harper is now reminiscent of Orwell’s nightmarish “1984” world. Then there’s the multi-million dollar Economic Action Plan ads the government has been pumping out for the last four years.

Since 2010, the Conservative government has relentlessly tried to rebrand the “Government of Canada” to “Harper government”. A 2011 Canadian Press revealed that bureaucrats now directed staffers to replace the title “Government of Canada” with “Harper Government,” in departmental releases. According to the Toronto Star:

Public servants from four different line departments told The Canadian Press the instruction came from “the Centre” — meaning the Prime Minister’s Office and the Privy Council Office that serves the Prime Minister.

None would speak on the record for fear of retribution. It’s a well-grounded concern given the treatment of a senior government scientist who was fired in 2006 after rebelling against a directive to use “Canada’s new government” in government communications.

Andrew Okulitch was subsequently reinstated after his story went public, and the Conservatives finally retired the “Canada’s new government” handle after 21 months in office.

The “Harper Government” moniker rose to prominence in 2009, when its use was noted in light of a controversy over Conservative MPs posing with giant, mock government cheques bearing the party logo and MPs’ signatures. The mock cheques were consigned to the dustbin, and the “Harper Government” handle went into partial hibernation.

Since December, “Harper Government” has returned with a vengeance, sprouting like mushrooms across departmental communications.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why the new messaging has been implemented.

Scores of news releases — from the Canada Revenue Agency to Fisheries and Oceans, Finance, International Trade, Health Canada and Industry Canada — are all headlined by “Harper Government” actions.

Even the Treasury Board Secretariat is using the term. The Treasury Board is the federal department charged with policing government communications policy, including the Federal Identity Program — which to a layman’s eyes appears to forbid such off-handed personalization in government titles.

Meanwhile, on Twitter, the #HarperCanada hashtag is on fire:

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