If war is too important to leave to the generals, then political language is too valuable to leave to the political class. It must be shared, understood, and often even challenged.

Parli has three goals:

  1. To deconstruct the language of Canadian politics
  2. To demonstrate the contemporary use of this language and,
  3. To demystify this language

Parli is for political junkies and those that wish to become one.

In Canada, politics is the mortar that has bound together our three founding cultures – if only to serve as a barrier that maintains our distinctiveness from the media noise of our neighbours to the south.

It should come as no surprise that our language is filled with rich terms and expressions that are uniquely and unmistakably Canadian. Far more than technical definitions or insider jargon, the language of Canadian politics is equally unique – if at times exasperating. Especially if you don’t speak the language.

At Campbell Strategies, we do speak the language of Canadian politics. We also know how its effective translation, understanding, and use, can make us all better students, better business people, and better civil servants. Even better politicians.

Parli is an exercise in research and shared wisdom. You are invited to comment and suggest new terms and definitions. We’ll be publishing updates regularly.

Parli as you are experiencing it today, is not the end product. It is only the beginning of our shared journey to understand what makes the language of Canadian politics tick. We hope that it makes you think, makes you laugh, and on occasion, scratch your head.

For example:

  • We’re the only country in the world to refer to electoral constituencies as “ridings”.
  • Innocuous-sounding terms like “Triple-E-Senate” or “Distinct Society” can trigger outpourings of grievance and emotion.
  • “Bilingualism” and “multiculturalism”, global-speak words that could have been coined by the most arid of social scientists, have a resonance and meaning in Canada they have nowhere else in the world.
  • Other nations and cultures meet their “Battle of Waterloo” or their “Vietnam”. In Canada, our shorthand for crisis and disaster is “Meech Lake Accord” or even “Avro Arrow”.
  • The National Dream” evokes our battle against climate and geography.
  • Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription” captures the very Canadian politics of incrementalism and accommodation.
  • Peace, order and good government” is more than a heading in our constitution; it’s our credo, our very political culture.


Read Our Publisher’s Note