The 2014 Science Strategy as taxpayer funded political document

While reading the 2014 Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) Strategy I was immediately struck by the use of the phrases\ “our Government” and the word “we.” In total, these words were used 266 times, a not inconsequential number.

I found this to be unusual. In a Government of Canada document I expect phrases like “The Canadian Government”, “your Government”, and “the government.” As such, the ST&I strategy read - to me - more like a partisan political document.

To be fair, one could argue that the use of “our” and “we” indicate a more personal touch to the document - one in which the reader is part of the group responsible for the strategy. In other words, “our” and “we” could denote all Canadians, not just a subset.

Being the suspicious and cynical bastard that I am, however, I decided to look more closely at the messages from the PM and the Minister of State for Science and Technology (Stephen Harper and Ed Holder, respectively) to see if that would clear things up.

The PM’s message starts with “The success of our economy, the prosperity of our communities, and the well-being of our families….”. This would suggest the all-encompassing use of “our” and - by extension - “we.” Totally benign.

The Minster’s comments point to something more akin to a political document however. Specifically, two sentences:

“Our Government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Stephen Harper…”


“In [this document] our government is delivering on our commitment…”

Readin this I interpret “our” to refer not to the country as a whole, but instead to the PM, ministers and MPs that were elected to “deliver on our commitment” “under the leadership of PM Stephen Harper”. As such, the document takes on a decidedly partisan flavour and comes off as more of a party platform document instead of a Government of Canada document.

I will admit to some bias. I have publicly wondered whether government documents - including Press Releases - that use the phrase “The Harper Government” are in fact a misuse of taxpayer funding for partisan political advertising. My interpretation of the use of “our” and “we” fits into the pattern of possible misuse of taxpayer funds for partisan purposes.

What do you think? And I reading too much into these two simple words? Or is “The Harper Government” trying to promote its brand through yet another government document?