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Nation‐building and Canada's national symbolic order, 1993–2015


Nations and Nationalism

Published online on


This article examines the symbolic construction of Canadian national identity by the 1993–2006 Liberal governments and the 2006–2015 Conservative governments. To do so, it employs the concept of a ‘national symbolic order’, which refers to the complex set of public symbols that invoke, transport, and define claims to a shared national identity. Within Canada's national symbolic order, we focus on the state's use of national symbols across two domains: Speeches from the Throne and banknotes. Our analysis shows that Canada's recent Conservative government has used both of these domains to reshape Canadian national identity in ways that accord with neo‐conservative values and ideology, and that it has done so in a coherent, consistent, and comprehensive fashion. This analysis highlights the symbolic strategies employed by state actors in linking particular ideologies to their nation‐building projects; these strategies span multiple political and policy spaces.