Heinbecker: Does the ‘royal’ rebranding of the Canadian Forces have a wider meaning?

By: /
26 August, 2011
By: Paul Heinbecker
CIGI Distinguished Fellow

The Conservative Government’s fifties mindset and colonialist druthers, not to forget its partisan instincts, were on unmistakable display during the latest royal visit. The Prime Minister and cabinet fawning over a young couple who have accomplished little beyond celebrity – she at least works at it; he was just born into it – the giant, ugly picture of the Queen hung at the entrance of Foreign Affairs, so that visitors can be in no doubt that Canada or at least some attractable voter demographic of Canada (the Maritimes?) still clings to an apron string, the return to memory lane to please Air Force and Navy geezers — as if the service of the subsequent two generations of the military had not been all it could be deprived, as it was, of royal insignia. It was all so retro. What next—“Father Knows Best”?

The too much protested insistence that “the royals are our royals, the Queen is our Queen” reminded me of my encounter with the Queen of Canada when I was Canada’s ambassador in Bonn.  She was visiting Germany, her office said, to promote British industry. Convoked into the royal presence with other Commonwealth representatives for a photo op, I asked one of the Queen’s senior courtiers if I could give her a list of Canadian businesses in Germany she might promote at the same time, given that she was Queen of Canada and all. I interpreted his blank look as a “no”. I note that the last leg of the recent royal couple’s great Americas adventure ended in Hollywood, where they promoted “British contributions in the field of film, television and video games”. I guess it was too much to expect “our” royals to promote Canadian contributions, too.   The British recognize, even if our current leaders don’t, that the Queen of Canada shtick is for the Canadian colony’s consumption only.

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