The Conservative government has formally renamed Ottawa's old city hall in honour of former Tory prime minister John Diefenbaker.

Half a century after Diefenbaker's six years in office, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a concerted effort to resurrect memories of the leader known as "The Chief."

A plaque and painting are part of the Diefenbaker name on the refurbished government building on Sussex Drive, not far from the prime minister's official residence.

Harper regularly invokes Diefenbaker in speeches, has named a new icebreaker after him, created awards in Dief's name and made a hefty federal grant to a Diefenbaker research centre in Saskatoon.

Political scientist Paul Thomas says the Harper government is exceedingly conscious of symbols and communications, and is moving to replace the Liberals as Canada's so-called 'natural governing party.'

The University of Manitoba professor believes part of that rebranding effort involves recasting Canada's political history to reflect more Tory blue.