In the news Monday, the new Liberal government has done some redecorating.
Officials took back two paintings by Quebec artist Alfred Pellan and hung them where they used to be, in the Foreign Affairs office in Ottawa. Four years ago, the Conservatives removed them to make room for a portrait of the Queen. The works had hung above the front desk since 1973.
There will be reasons for this that only insiders will know, but on the outside, it’s a symbolic gesture that supports the work of a Canadian painter. The twin paintings colourfully depict Canada West and Canada East.
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion says the removal of the Queen’s portrait should not be interpreted as a lack of respect for the monarchy. The Queen’s portrait was placed in the ministry office just before the visit of Prince William and Kate in June 2011.
Whatever you think of the paintings, or in whatever esteem you hold the Queen, the outward gesture of supporting Canadian arts, Canadian geography and Canadian history is representative of a new era of government – one that supports arts, celebrates geography, and – hopefully – learns from history.