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Branding the Government

October 19th, 2009

On July 1st, 2008, just over a year ago, Muhtar Kent became the 13th Chairman of the board and CEO of Coca Cola corporation, taking the reigns from E. Neville Isdel after a four year term. Did you notice? Did you see press releases for “Cokes new corporation” whenever Coke corp. made an announcement?

When Stephen Harper became Canada’s 22nd Prime Minister in 2006 the phrase “Canada’s New Government” was bandied about like bikinis in a beer commercial. It was untrue, Canada had the same Parliamentary Democracy/Constitutional Monarchy it has always had, what was new was the people running the show. Much like CEO Kent, the Prime Minister is responsible to continue the tradition of the Canadian Government, not remake it in it’s own image.

Since scary Stephen Harper became Prime Minister Harper in those heady days in 2006, Harper has sought to brand himself and his party as Canada’s government. Understandable considering their main opposition is known as “Canada’s natural governing party,” and have branded themselves so well that Canada’s flag is Liberal red.  However, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are not Canada’s government, they are currently in charge of Canada’s government.

The Conservatives branding initiative has recently increased, causing comment from some of Canada’s top political minds. While the replacing the Maple Leaf with the Conservatives stylized ‘C’ on some economic porn cheques appears to be the work of some rogue MPs, it is an understandable mistake. After all, the Conservative Party just put much the same logo on the Olympic clothing to be worn by our athletes this year

To be sure, as the partisans excuse, they all do it: If you live in Ontario your health card, designed during the Bob Rae NDP era is NDP green. It replaced the Liberal red and white design of the David Peterson era . Your drivers license is Tory blue, designed at some point during the 42 year reign of the Ontario Tories from George Drew in 1943 through to Frank Miller in 1985.

If your surprised by logo-gate you haven’t been paying attention. The present Conservative government in Ottawa promised better it is true. But they never were better. Stephen Harper took the reigns of government and immediately declared not that they were the latest guardians of Canadian democracy, not honoured to be placed in the highest position of responsibility in the Canadian government, but that they were The Government: “Canada’s new Government.”

Like The Coca-Cola Company, which has been in existence almost as long as there has been a Canada, what makes Canadian’s governance so succesful is the transition of power, the seamless change from one CEO to the next. Stephen Harper never saw it that way, and the direct result is big cheques with the stylized blue C of your new government on them.


  1. Ted
    October 19th, 2009 at 10:33 | #1

    Good post.

    Small correction: The Liberals never “branded themselves so well that Canada’s flag is Liberal red”.

    During the Great Flag Debate, Mike Pearson’s proposed flag was a branch with three maple leaves (representing the English, French and Aboriginal founding nations) and bordered by two blue banners representing the two oceans. It was referred to as the Pearson Pennent.

    In committee, the NDP, the Liberals, the Social Credit member of the committee and all of the Progressive Conservatives voted in favour of Gordon Stanley’s proposed flag, the one we have today (the maple leaf itself and the dimensions have changed somewhat).

    Moreover, Stanley’s proposed flag had nothing to do with the Liberals. He got the idea from the flag of the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Military_College_of_Canada“>Royal Military College of Canada.

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