January 2012 Commentary

The Secret Tory Plan Revealed

by J. L. Granatstein

Prime Minister Harper, we are told, is trying to remake Canadian patriotism, pushing it away from Liberal-instituted symbols, peacekeeping, and the Pearson-Trudeau traditions. He has already restored the Royal designation to the Canadian Air Force and the Canadian Navy, much to the shock of many of those serving and to all republicans outside the military.

But now the Conservative government’s secret plans can be revealed, thanks to a plain brown envelope with a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff that popped over my transom on New Year’s Day. The scope is simply breathtaking.

The army is to revert to British-style battle dress and puttees, and the Lee-Enfield rifle that won the two world wars will be brought back into service. The RCAF will be equipped with hand-built Spitfires, bound to cost less than F-35s. And the RCN will build a brand new, perfect in every detail, HMCS Niobe, that will not go to sea but will be docked next to the navy’s unuseable (British-built!) submarines. And to top it off, the strategic planners at National Defence Headquarters will draw up plans for a Canadian Expeditionary Force to be shipped to England in case the European Union, led by the Germans and the perfidious French, try to invade to make the Brits adopt the Euro. We shall fight them on the beaches!

But that is only one part of Harper’s daring plan. The Order of Canada will be scrapped, and knighthoods and titles will be restored. The KBE and KCB will become eagerly sought for once again. And there will be more. Can you believe Brian, Duke of Baie Comeau (his ducal crest will portray three cash-stuffed envelopes on a field of Airbus aircraft), or Adrienne, Marchioness of the Annex (with her motto reading “I’m Adrienne Clarkson and you’re not”). And if the Tories need electoral help in Quebec next election, the leaked memo suggests that making Lucien Bouchard the Viscomte de Québec might help. The new Canadian aristocrats, or so the plan goes, will sit in the “reformed” Senate or, as it is to be called, the House of Lords and Ladies.

The Governor-General’s post never again will go to CBC journalists or aged professors. Only British aristocrats will be considered, and the GG will wear Windsor uniform, including the cocked hat. To top this all off, Canada Post will revert to its original name, the Royal Mail, and royal coats of arms will be put on every re-painted red mailbox. The mail service is dying, but the government planners somehow believe that this will increase revenues by at least 7 percent in 2013.

At the same time, Jason Kenney, the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, will be despatched to Britain to recruit immigrants. The government expects tens of thousands to flee the coming collapse of the U.K. economy, Scottish independence, and the death of the Celtic tiger. These new Canadians will speak English (after a fashion), understand our constitution at least as well as the native born, and will integrate readily. And it’s not just the hijab: immigrants from other parts of the world will no longer be allowed to cross their fingers behind their backs when swearing allegiance to the Queen.

Moreover, British pronunciations and terms will be encouraged. Many Canadians still pronounce lieutenant as “leftenant,” but now it will be a misdemeanour (thanks to a clause that no one noticed in the government’s sweeping anti-crime legislation) not to do so. It will be the same for “lift” instead of elevator and “boot” instead of trunk. Fortunately, the original plan, developed in the PMO, to adopt the British practice of driving on the “wrong” side of the road was dropped as too costly—and too dangerous.

There is much more, too much for a short column. A few tidbits: the Liberal Prime Ministers on Canadian money, Laurier and King, will be replaced by royals—apparently Prince Charles is to be on the $50 with Edward VIII, perhaps with “the woman I love” Wallis Simpson at his side, on the $5. The Stratford Shakespearean Festival and the Shaw Festival will be encouraged (by threatening to withhold grants) to show only Shakespeare and Shaw--no more attempts to broaden offerings. The Maple Leaf flag will now be flown only with the Union Jack and Red Ensign alongside, and always one metre lower. And hardest of all to manage, when Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (the “Rottweiler” to Lady Di), come to visit this summer, the media will be encouraged, i.e., warned, to be nice to them. Good luck.

This is a sweeping plan, and the Prime Minister has directed that it proceed at full speed. “I want to remake Canada,” the memo quotes him. And so he might do.

When not receiving leaked memos, J.L. Granatstein is Senior Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. 

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