In my former land, such things tended to have a long and colourful history behind them, such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, or Her Majesty’s Land Registry. Others are listed as ‘Department for…’, with a descriptive few words or a phrase to enlighten we dullards. The Department for Exiting the European Union, is a topical and, for this writer at least, somewhat painful example. The point is that the titles for departments and activities bear distinctive and occasionally interesting names. To illustrate my point, the ‘Chancellor of The Exchequer’ has a marvelous, rounded feel to it which invokes richly-coloured velvet and bejewelled robes.
Not so much here in Canada.
This first struck me across my quivering face not long after I arrived in this beautiful country some seventeen years ago, when I had to deal with something called ‘Revenue Canada’. That’s odd, I thought. ‘Canada Post’ also seemed rather perfunctory, indeed just a little excessively so. ‘The Royal Mail’ or even ‘The Post Office’ have much more gravitas, I thought. I discovered that it doesn’t stop there, of course; in Canada the formula seems to be to take the word or words which most easily – and not always most accurately - sums up the agency (so far, so good) and then slam the word ‘Canada’ on at the end. It doesn’t sound too onerous until you start having to deal with these various entities, at which point things rapidly reach boring point. I give you:
- Health Canada
- Environment Canada
- Global Affairs Canada
- Service Canada
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- Parks Canada
- Library and Archives Canada
- Employment and Social Benefit Canada
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
- National Resources Canada
- Shared Services Canada
- Transport Canada
This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are many more such mind-numbing titles where those came from. My new favourite, discovered only today, is ‘Earthquakes Canada’. Someone wasn’t even trying with that one. It sounds like it was made up by some poor wretch off sick, in bed on the phone to the office and having been put on the spot to come up with something to tell the minister in charge, or else.
Quite how many more of these names exist, I’m not sure. To find out, I would probably need to get in touch with someone at – wait for it – Statistics Canada. Yes, really.
I give up…Canada.