Among the signature elements of the Conservative party’s approach to political marketing is its attention to Canadian history, notably through the associating the Harper government with milestones like the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
In Budget 2013, the government takes a key tactical step toward making sure the national celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, coming up in 2017, is firmly in the control of the Canadian Heritage minister—especially when it comes to fireworks over the Peace Tower.
The National Capital Commission was responsible for Canada Day party on Parliament Hill. But the budget wrests the big show away from the NCC, which functions with a large degree of independence, and puts it under the control of the Heritage Minister James Moore, and his successors.
And the lessening of the NCC’s role in promoting patriotic events goes well beyond July 1st on the Hill. The budget also shifts responsibility for the popular Winterlude festival—organized around Ottawa’s much photographed 8-km Rideau Canal skating rink—and all other “promotion of the National Capital region events” to Heritage from the NCC.
With the entire mandate for showcasing Ottawa as Canada’s capital transferring to Heritage, the NCC will clearly become a much lower-profile agency. And the potential for any future Heritage minister to exploit the capital to the government’s—and the governing party’s— advantage will be dramatically enhanced.