Sunday, October 12, 2008

Canadian Parties -- The Nicknames

In Canadian politics, the Liberals are often called "Grits", while the Conservatives bear the label of "Tories".

Here is a web page that explains the history behind those labels.

Other sources confirm that "Grits" comes from "Clear Grits", a political movement that preceded the 1867 Canadian Confederation. That's grit as in sand. It has a meaning in masonry, being pure sand not polluted by dirt. Hence, the real thing, clear and not muddled.

"Tory" is also a name attached to the British Conservative Party. It was the party's official name in the 18th century. They continue to be called Tories, even though "Conservative Party" became their correct title in the 19th century.

"Tory" originally referred to a type of Irish outlaw. During the 17th century, it was applied to a faction that backed the Roman Catholic House of Stuart. That party had become staunch supporters of the Protestant Hannoverians who took the throne in the 18th century (the Georges I, II and III), but the name stuck.

The name came to be applied to the Conservatives in Canada who, especially in their early days, as I wrote here, promoted close ties with Britain. The Canadian Conservatives, in all of the identities they've taken over the years, whether Liberal-Conservative, Progressive Conservative, or just plain Conservative, have been called Tories.

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