01 July 2009

Cons do unto DFAIT what they did unto SWC

Recall when the Harper Conservatives began changing the language - and thus mandate and eligibility criteria for grants - used for Status of Women Canada? These changes were seen on its website and other materials, and heard in any references the Cons made to the department. Words like 'equality' were erased.

Well they've not been idle when it comes to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade either.

DFAIT insiders tell Embassy that since the Conservative government took power in 2006, political staffers have directed rank and file Foreign Affairs bureaucrats to stop using policy language created by the former Liberal government.

"There are phrases you are not supposed to use," said one Canadian diplomat, on condition of anonymity. "Anything that smacks of the previous government is totally verboten.

"There is this tendency, almost like a knee-jerk reaction, to discount or ignore or change whatever it is the Liberals did and let's put a new Conservative face on it," he added. "There's a whole range of words and expressions that are being depopulated out of the documents, and are replaced with ones that are more to the [Conservatives'] liking."

Chief among the forbidden phrases, multiple DFAIT insiders have told Embassy, are "human security," "public diplomacy" and "good governance." Preferred key words include "human rights," the "rule of law," and "democracy" or "democratic development."

When you change a language, you change a culture.

The Cons are transforming Canada one word at a time.

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