From Paul and John’s consideration of the Harper Era, insight into the place of patriotism in the new Conservative party.
“We didn’t have a competing narrative,” one of them says now. “What are the symbols people talk about when they talk about Canada? Health care. The Charter. Peacekeeping. The United Nations. The CBC. Almost every single example was a Liberal achievement or a Liberal policy. We had gotten to a point in Canada where the conservative side of politics had been marginalized—where we weren’t even recognized as legitimately Canadian.”
… Harper had to carve out a patriotic vocabulary that was different from the Liberals’. “We didn’t have any illusions about displacing the Liberal vision and the Liberal narrative of Canada,” the strategist says. “But we needed to give the conservative side something to rally around.” So almost from the beginning, Harper started building a distinct right-of-centre, patriotic new vocabulary. “It’s the Arctic,” this strategist said. “It’s the military. It’s the RCMP. It’s the embrace of hockey and lacrosse and curling.” In policy terms, it included the child care cheques and the accompanying rhetoric of families able to make their own choices.