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Law, Rhetoric, and Irony in the Formation of Canadian Civil Culture

Law, Rhetoric, and Irony in the Formation of Canadian Civil Culture

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 432
  • Book Info
    Law, Rhetoric, and Irony in the Formation of Canadian Civil Culture
    Book Description:

    A challenging examination of the history of Canadian governance and the central role played by legal and other discourses in the formation of civil culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7660-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-2)
    MD and MC
  5. Envoi
    (pp. 3-13)

    The phrase ʻPeace, Order, and Good Governmentʼ is to Canada what ʻLife, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happinessʼ is to the United States, aprojectof the authority of governance. But more than that, the phrase speaks to the arts and manners of governance; the styles ormentalitésthat both inform and perform how governance gets acted out. To be sure, there are obvious differences in emphasis between the two; where the first specifically emphasizes ʻgovernmentʼ (as in the State), the second does so indirectly, suggesting ʻgovernmentʼ more in the sense of a self-governing civil society. Yet the two phrases...

  6. 1 Situating Canada’s Civil Culture
    (pp. 14-40)

    To say that Canada as a political and discursive entity exists in a condition of constant, latent symbolic crisis is as much a truism as it is a cliché. From Voltaireʼs dismissive ʻforty arpents of snow,ʼ if not before – Jacques Carrier had initially compared his discovery to the land God gave Cain – Canadian selfdefinitions have laboured alternatively between a pervasive sense of generalized inferiority and wishful aspirations to grandiosity. If such sentiments of inferiority emerged often in contrast to the more flamboyant self-definitions and dynamic continental expansion of the republic south of the 49th parallel, the United States...

  7. 2 ‘Who Killed Canadian History?’ The Uses and Abuses of Canadian Historiography
    (pp. 41-76)

    There seems to be considerable unease in Canadian historiography of late, at least in its more public manifestations. Some of this stems from the transformations in historical studies over the past three decades, in the light of revisionist perspectives emphasizing the arbitrariness of the objects, topics, and categories of history, so-called national history in particular, and even of the notion of history itself. The result has been the attempt to include, within new ways of historical narration, previously absent or insufficiently foregrounded factors, such as economic and social determinants, social class, and regionalism, and, at the actor-level, class fractions, social...

  8. 3 The Legitimacy of Conquest: Issues in the Transition of Legal Regimes, 1760s–1840s
    (pp. 77-117)

    In his thoughtful collection of essays,Justice as Translation, James Boyd White, one of the leading American scholars of the legal imagination, makes the argument that at the heart of law (and justice) is what he terms ‘translation.’ This is not the ‘transportationʼ of a certain view of meaning from one place to another ʻlike an object that can be picked upʼ (1990: 234), but rather a complex process of the interpretation of textsʼ meanings from one cultural environment to its interpretive reproduction in another, and the difficulties that this process entails. Very apropos to our concerns is that Boyd...

  9. 4 Constituting Constitutions under the British Regime, 1763–1867
    (pp. 118-152)

    In the preceding chapter, we saw how the difficulties involved in developing a workable regime of laws for Quebec provided opportunities for the emergence of politics and a protopublic sphere. This was in part a consequence of the logic of conquest, which included Britain’s recognition of prior institutions and practices and a certain willingness to grant them some continued form of standing. For all of that, however, the colony was now British. Regardless of their origins, form, language, spirit, or dispositions, the laws of the colony now stood, in effect, as expressions of a British sovereign will. In other words,...

  10. 5 The Limits of Law: The North-West, Riel, and the Expansion of Anglo-Canadian Institutions, 1869–1885
    (pp. 153-190)

    In the preceding chapters, we have considered the fundamental place of law in the formation of Canadaʼs civil culture and the importance of prudence in ʻconstitutingʼ Canada within a largely English tradition of political liberties and their institutional forms. Law was the medium of European authority and governance, and thus as Robert Williams observes inThe American Indian in Western Legal Thought:

    Europeʼs conquest of the New World was a legal enterprise. The archives of Western colonialism in the Americas reveal a profusion of laws that were drafted, enacted, obeyed, ignored, or defied in pursuit of Europe’s will to empire...

  11. 6 ‘Impious Civility’: Woman’s Suffrage and the Refiguration of Civil Culture, 1885–1929
    (pp. 191-222)

    In our preceding chapters, we explored the struggles over Canadaʼs legal and constitutional order with respect to its limited capacity to ʻpresenceʼ difference, to recognize new and different subjects. As we have seen, the problem of difference is constitutive of Canada itself. Of course, difference and a coming to terms with otherness are not unique to Canada, but we would assert the particularity of the Canadian rhetoric attendant to the inscription of difference in law. The very act that established Canada as a British colony under British law also recognized otherness and ambiguously acknowledged other legal orders. Canadaʼs emergence as...

  12. 7 The Dialectic of Language, Law, and Translation: Manitoba and Quebec Revisited, 1969–1999
    (pp. 223-257)

    As the previous chapter has shown and as the work of Linda Hutcheon has demonstrated, ʻCanadianʼ rhetoric is a strange and fragmented form of language use. As E.D. Blodgett put it, ʻCanadianʼ is ʻa mixed language,by law ambiguous, and always offering possible escape routes ... without ever leaving homeʼ (cited in Hutcheon 1991: 1, emphasis added). As had earlier been remarked by Frye, Hutcheon also notes that ʻCanad[ians] often speak ... with a doubled voice, with the forked tongue of ironyʼ (1). Seen either as a defensive or offensive rhetorical ʻweapon,ʼ for Hutcheon, ‘irony – even in the simple...

  13. 8 Civility, Its Discontents, and the Performance of Social Appearance
    (pp. 258-289)

    Obviously, then, Canada has not always been a peaceable kingdom. It has seen rebellions and other forms of strife, but it has remained nevertheless a counterrevolutionary country, predicated upon accommodation, respect for the law, and the strainedphiliaof parliamentary manners. One could repeat the cliche that Canadians are therefore deferential,¹ yet social peace has often been unhappy, and if the deferral of conflict has often been enforced as a norm, resentment and antagonism have always been close at hand. Thus the previous two chapters have focused with increasing centrality upon the question of civility and the management of antagonism...

  14. 9 The Figures of Authority in Canadian Civil Culture
    (pp. 290-316)

    In this concluding chapter of our study, we return to the specifics of the Canadian case, and attempt to weave together the various topics analysed in the chapters above in a coherent account of the figuration of the civil culture of Canada. Our preoccupations centre upon the various modes of ʻperforming power,ʼ as these have manifested themselves since the European encounter with the First Peoples of the northern parts of the continent, and particularly as of the French regime in its post-comptoiremanifestations in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. By performing power, we draw upon Robert Hariman’s conception of political...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 317-324)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 325-352)
  17. Index
    (pp. 353-359)