A chart that will help you understand Stephen Harper’s “Old Stock Canadians” phrase

by Joey deVilla on September 18, 2015

The phrase from last night’s Canadian leadership debate (for those of you who aren’t Canadian, there’s a national election going on) is the one uttered by incumbent, Prime Minister, and dickish control freak Stephen Harper during the part about immigrants and refugees. It’s at the 20-second mark in the video below:

“Old Stock Canadians.” It’s got the same dog-whistle tone as the Quebec phrases pure laine, which translates literally as “pure wool”, and is better translated as “dyed in the wool”, and de souche, a 19th-century term invented by anti-Semites in France which oddly enough, translates as…old stock.

“Old Stock Canadian” is an especially interesting turn of phrase since Harper’s Conservative Party, who have been facing a steeper uphill campaign than they’d expected, recently hired pricey Australian campaign strategist Lynton Crosby, who’s known for using xenophobia in his election-winning playbook.

If you’re still not sure of what “Old Stock Canadian” means, you’re in luck. Rachel Décoste came up with a handy chart, and I’ve spruced up its typography and wording:

old stock vs those people


{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve September 18, 2015 at 11:19 am

Or, it means Canadians who drink Old Stock, like the old farmers across the prairies. Sorta a deeper riff on the Tim Hortons Canadians to which the PM has referred to in the past.

Liza Herz September 18, 2015 at 11:33 am

Great, observant puece. Just one small thing. “Dyed in the wool” means “staunch”, whereas pure Paine/pure wool means unadulterated, as in pure blood. As in a really creepy racist thing to say. So exactly like “old stock.”

Art Jaszczyk September 18, 2015 at 11:39 am

Shades of Jacques Parizeau of Quebec and his statement about “pure laine”.
Racism is ignorance. 🙁

Justin Trudeau September 18, 2015 at 2:31 pm

My father first used the term “old stock.”

John Martin September 18, 2015 at 4:45 pm

So, now we are stock? As in “Cattle”?

Bob McDonald September 18, 2015 at 5:46 pm

Great work!

joan Boswell September 18, 2015 at 6:35 pm

Disgraceful reference – We’re all new stock – our families whether it was last year or three hundred years ago came from somewhere else.

marie byggdin September 18, 2015 at 9:41 pm

I think OLD STOCK means old white guys, stuck!!

Mary Ann Sanderson September 18, 2015 at 11:08 pm

Harper also means “old gate”. The rich in Calgary who made it when times were good and deals were done. “Red neck Calgary”. And theses are the people in Calgary who are going to vote for him despite knowing he has been exposed, is dishonest, tainted and a long history of fraud. What does that say about them?

CatherinemacEwen September 18, 2015 at 11:22 pm

I am a Canadian, proud of our diversity, our acceptance and our humanity. Stock is about cattle and not me. I have a family who came here 200 years ago for the same values and cherish those who venture here as a new beging.

D B Clemens September 19, 2015 at 12:03 am

The folks who have been here the longest are the aboriginal peoples. Do you suppose he was referring to them?

Don McWilliam September 19, 2015 at 12:46 am

One size mouth fits all size shoes. He might have saved Canada by waking allot more of us up to the control and preferred militarization of our country by the external forces that pretty much control our resources and business as it is. The 1% are coming down on freedom world wide and we can’t let this happen in Canada. Let’s take Canada back, burn the GMO, close the loopholes and get rid of the assholes. Once the CONS are GONES(sic) it will be a ten year process to reestablish and further develop the Country we share, peacefully with “better is more for all” as the basic premise. We will face wrath of our trading partners who are struggling to protect there own butts because people world wide a rebelling against greed and loss of freedom. We will be facing Financial Terrorists for a while. I am willing to sacrifice for the future generations of this amazing country.

Lance September 19, 2015 at 12:55 am

You idiots don’t know what racist even means. I bet you are all offended too. Leftwingnuts.

MOLDCOCK September 19, 2015 at 2:17 am

Yeah the Natives are old stock you buffoon.

You’re Eurotrash stock.

Hans van der Werff September 19, 2015 at 2:18 am

In 1955 I set foot on Canadian soil in Halifax. five years later I chose to become a Canadian. Now 60 years later, having contributed to the growth of Canada, I may feel like old stock also.

Monica September 19, 2015 at 3:17 am

I wouldn’t brag about who used the term first. After all, unless your of Native descent, you then can’t be considered old stock. Thieves maybe.

buckybone September 19, 2015 at 3:33 am

“Old stock”…it doesn’t get much older than First Nations people, but somehow I doubt they were who Harper was talking about.

Brett Watson September 19, 2015 at 4:21 am

Joan Boswell: while I appreciate your sentiment, your comment ignores a large portion of the Canadian population that predates 300 years by about 9,700 years.

Mary Ann Sanderson: Truly an ignorant statement. I don’t know where you live or where you have lived, but clearly Calgary isn’t one of those places. You do realize we have an NDP provincial government? There’s certainly a “redneck” element within Alberta, but Calgary is hardly the centre for that element, nor does that element represent a significant electoral power (in this election or in any previous election).

I’m a proud Albertan, and stand with many other proud Albertans in recognizing that O & G is a major engine of the country’s economy, while standing in opposition of socially conservative ideals and corruption.

Your broad painting of Albertans as rednecks in your comment is ironic, given the context of the article,

Irene Ogrizek September 19, 2015 at 7:47 am

I understand why people are upset with Harper, but in all fairness, the political left in this country is just as bad. If you take a close look at those supporting assisted suicide, they are just as arrogant; I would argue even worse because they seem to think that the god of fairness is on their side. Most of the hate mail sent to disability activists fighting assisted suicide comes from the political left–these are self-identified leftists on social media and the commentary can be genuinely vile. I’ve screenshotted some of the worst I’ve received. I no longer see the value in left/right thinking because of it.

Josephine Aristone September 19, 2015 at 8:18 am

HARPER IN MY OPINION IS A BIGOT. I believe he belonged at one time before his political days to an organization that didn’t want the Vietnam refugees brought here. HOW SOON WE FORGET.

Donna Batchelor September 19, 2015 at 9:03 am

If we were to be honest, Native Canadians are the only “old stock” here, and we would then be the other people…..

Yan Basque September 19, 2015 at 9:19 am

“Pure laine” does not in any way translate to “dyed in the wool.”

Dyed in the wool means “unchanging in a particular belief or opinion; inveterate.” That has nothing to do with the Québécois expression.

There’s no nuance to the expression “pure laine”. It means someone who is of exclusively French-Canadian/Québécois ancestry. It’s about bloodline and it’s very transparent in its racism. Translating it as “dyed in the wool” introduces a level of complexity that is simply not present in the French expression.

Rex Baldwin September 19, 2015 at 9:41 am

I prefer what my buddy said “Past their sell by date” ….

Lily September 19, 2015 at 9:46 am

I believe I classify as old stock. My family goes back about five or six generations. Yet, I can’t seem to enjoy Canadian life.

Being “old stock” doesn’t change the fact that I’m effectively stuck outside of the country because my husband and my application for his residency status, was unreasonably delayed so long, that for both of our career continuity and financial welfare, we had to leave and cancel the whole application.

We had applied as “inside of Canada” with the mistaken belief that it would take 7 to 11 months (instead of the original processing time of 4 months and found that it was sitting more at 27 months, during which he is expected to not work as a top intellectual. Of course, his status doesn’t matter because they are not technically doing anything to cause delays. In fact, they are not doing anything period.

Old stock or not, Harper is screwing with Canada, that effectively screws with us all. My grandmother and family members have written pleading letters asking the government to allow him and I to return, but no one will see those letters for at least a year or so, in our new immigration application. Did I mention that in the last 9 years, he spent 6 of them in Canada, and 3 in California? Again, someone would have to read through our application to find that out.

It doesn’t change the fact that all my old school friends, most of whom are women, have had to move from the city we grew up in because the property rental costs became way higher than the jobs we never seemed to get (despite great educations and skills), and most can’t yet dream of affording a house. I’d love to start dreaming of buying a house in my country, if we were allowed to live and work in it.

There are too many things to mention, but “old stock” or new stock (it’s all stock, and to Harper, I would not be surprised if the citizens of Canada were seen as products to be bought and sold), this country needs to be run properly and respectfully to a multi-origin, complicated history country with potential to be a world leader in so many ways with the diversity that we successfully have built, and the natural resources hat until now were predominantly protected.

Old stock, de souche, (I hated that one in Quebec), none of it means anything if you don’t find yourself in a small privileged majority. Maybe if I was an old white man, Harper’s “old stock” would be looking good right now. As it stands, I feel he’s treating me and my family more like old socks. (Bad pun.)

b hu September 19, 2015 at 10:19 am

Here’s Mr. Trudeau using the same phrase a few years ago. That makes him a racist as well the right?


Anna Small September 19, 2015 at 11:27 am

The visual ‘card’ also speaks to racial profiling which serves to emphasize the point. My hope and prayer is that all the name calling and branding of people will stop. The issues affecting this wonderful country, Canada, that we call home, is struggling due to ineffective development and implementation of policies and laws that are meant to protect us and this country. Internal fighting never ends well and it gives those on the outside the advantage. That is how plundering happens. Canada is being bought up by Non Canadian enterprises. What are You doing to stop this from happening? We cannot always put blame on the ‘government of the day’. Politicians are elected. We have to take the responsibility of making that error over and over again. The bureaucrats are not elected. They are the ones writing up the policies and legislation. Who is holding them accountable? We Pay their salaries too. I had a wise man as a father and teacher. He taught me to never simply accept what is seen on the surface. Ask questions. Don’t back down. Delve deeper. If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. Ask the tough questions. Where do the candidates in your riding stand on the issues in this country that are important to you? It’s about the issues! No more smoke and mirrors! No more lies. We might not like hearing the truth. That might be a good indicator of what the right thing is for you to do. Conscience. Truth. Your Choice.

Renee Munroe September 19, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Joan Boswell, I beg to differ with you, we are NOT all from somewhere else. My family may be, but the aboriginal people were always here. Everyone else (my family included) came and took from these people.

Jack Tweedy September 19, 2015 at 12:34 pm

Our so called old stock and I refer also to my Fore Fathers Building this Great Country having god in mind also something we as Canadians are slowly losing and I feel no matter how Bad the Critics say things about Conservatives and Mr Harper The Best Thing for Canada in these Days ar Mr Harper and The Conservatives God Bles our Nation Canada

Patricia Morfee September 19, 2015 at 12:54 pm

My family has been in Canada for over 200 years. They came for a better life and I have no problem with people from other Countries wanting to be free of oppression in their lives.

gareth September 19, 2015 at 1:01 pm
John September 19, 2015 at 1:05 pm

I think you miss Stephen’s point. Be referring to “old stock Canadians”, he’s just affirmed or attracted new voters for his views about race and ethnicity. That’s appealing to his base of voters, and they get out and vote. Our youth could really make a difference in the federal election, especially if they get out and vote.

Mike September 19, 2015 at 1:14 pm

The Conservatives have previously used the term “old stock Canadians” to refer to that vague group of citizens who aren’t first generation immigrants

Jim Minard September 19, 2015 at 2:15 pm

You decide folks:
1. Much ado about nothing
2. Making a mountain out of a mole hill

Is it really a big deal for the news to be so excited out it?

catherine September 19, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Master manipulator, even of words !!!!

Raisa Stone September 19, 2015 at 3:00 pm

I think the meme is partly true, but not completely. I’m first generation Canadian, with a Dad who fled the Stalinist regime and Holocaust. He barely got in, due to Canada’s anti-Semite, anti-European refugee policy at the time. Thousands more could have been saved. My Dad had blonde hair and blue eyes. He worked very hard to become considered “Old Stock” and to make his children fit in, but due to his accent and loyalty to Ukrainian culture, it never quite happened.

Let’s not forget that Ukrainians and other Slavs were also held in prison camps during WWI, and despite FLEEING Communism and Nazism, accused of these things once arriving here after WWII.

Again, the meme is partly true, because darker skinned people absolutely face more discrimination in Canada. But not entirely true. Because what Old Stock really means is Anglo Saxon. When I lived in Victoria, I was stunned at how much more easily Anglo Saxons are granted immigrant status than other, “white” nationalities.

Melinda September 19, 2015 at 3:16 pm

The Term Old Stock Canadians is not racist. It refers to people that have been in Canada for more than 2 generations. Like the Africans that came here in 1605, South Asians that came here in 1902 and the Chinese that started immigrating here in the late 1800’s. The entire country of all political stripes call immigrants that have been here for a generation New Canadians and that is acceptable. Oh….and who said “Old Stock” first? Trudeau, in 2007! But of course as he flip flops now, he flip flops then.

De de Nippising September 19, 2015 at 3:36 pm

My family has been here before the first boat put in, that makes us the keepers of the ” old stock”.

Doug Desjardins September 19, 2015 at 4:29 pm

Perhaps he is talking about First Nations Canadians who are older stock than European stock.

Kris Hughes September 19, 2015 at 5:40 pm

Elephant in the room time. Surely the only true old stock would be indigenous.

Christine Alexopoulos September 19, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Old sock? That dies go with pure laine

Marlene Meddings-Smith September 19, 2015 at 8:41 pm

The First Nation’s people were here and the rest of us are boat people. Get over yourselves!

Manon Aubry September 19, 2015 at 10:09 pm

My family came to Quebec in 1694, that would probably make us “old stock”. The only thing I was ever taught about how society worked was to be kind and helpful to everyone who needs a hand and to make sure that everyone I interact with feels valued and appreciated.
Harper has definitely not learned “old stock” ways .
Manon Aubry

Sent from my iPhone

Sandra Martens September 19, 2015 at 10:57 pm

None of you Harper haters are listening! You only hear what you want to hear. Sad the educated people are not on this site!

Mike September 20, 2015 at 12:28 am

The European side of my family has been here for nearly 450 years
I guess that makes me extra old cheese stock lol…

Julien Scott September 20, 2015 at 5:24 am

No joan boswell….we are not “all” new.

Tom September 20, 2015 at 11:02 am

Harper is a dick. Does that make me equally judgemental?

Anna Louise September 20, 2015 at 11:46 am

I am curious as to the context in which Pierre Elliott Trudeau used the term ‘old stock’. It’s one thing to see and hear it in the most recent context, however how and in what context was it used by Pierre……many years ago. Justin or someone with access to Pierre’s use, could it be found and posted?

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