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Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Five ways Harper is rebranding the government Add to ...

In its latest exercise in rebranding, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is underlining that the country’s soldiers carry guns with its quiet decision to refer to the military as the Canadian Armed Forces.

In the past, the government has used two names – the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Armed Forces – “interchangeably” but it is now “consistently” using the longer name, said Paloma Aguilar, a spokeswoman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

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“We believe the term more accurately reflects the capabilities of our military,” Ms. Aguilar said in an e-mail Wednesday.

The move is another example of Mr. Harper’s embrace of Canada’s traditional roots. In 1968, the three branches of the military – the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force – were unified into a single structure known as the Canadian Armed Forces. Under former prime minister Jean Chrétien in the 1990s, the Liberal government quietly began calling the military by the gentler name of the Canadian Forces.

Here are four other examples of rebranding by the Harper Conservatives:

Navy, air force become ‘Royal’

The Harper government announced in 2011 that the names of two of the armed forces would be restored to their former monikers: the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Air Force.

The new ‘Aboriginal Affairs’ department

The department that had been called “Indian Affairs” since before Confederation was rebranded as “Aboriginal Affairs” in 2011. The new name was meant to show that the department’s role had been expanded to serve a greater number of people, including Métis and Inuit, who do not fall into the classification of status Indian.

The ‘Harper Government’

Civil servants were urged in 2010 to refer to the “Harper Government” in official Government of Canada communications, according to documents unearthed the next year. However at the time, a spokesman for Mr. Harper denied that non-partisan civil servants were told to use “Harper Government” on departmental news releases in the months leading up to the spring 2011 election campaign.

‘Canada’s New Government’

After their election in 2006, Mr. Harper’s minority government began using the term “Canada’s New Government” in official communications, including in press releases and on websites. More than 18 months later, the government was still using the name.

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