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The Republican Option in Canada, Past and Present

The Republican Option in Canada, Past and Present

Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 352
  • Book Info
    The Republican Option in Canada, Past and Present
    Book Description:

    Examines the history, prospects, and implications of republicanism in Canada, traces the ambivalence of Canadians to the concept, and demonstrates the conflict republican theories and practices present for parliamentary systems of the British model.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8219-1
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xiv)

    Since this is a book about a subject rarely discussed in Canadian politics, some explanation for its appearance is in order. Although in Canada republicanism remains largely moribund, in other countries who share its traditions of parliamentary democracy it is a matter of interest, controversy, and polemic. At the end of the twentieth century Australia is the obvious example of a country with a case of republican fever, although there is no agreement on the nature of the complaint the fever manifests. In Great Britain discussion about constitutional change with the aim of curtailing the monarchy and the social structure...

  5. Part I

    • 1 Why Is There No Republicanism in Canada?
      (pp. 3-36)

      A book about republicanism in Canada labours under the handicap that there is no republican movement in Canada, no believers to extol its worth, no literature to advance the creed. Very occasionally, in the last century rather than in this, and then only temporarily, some individuals adopted a republican future as their own. But, with the notable exception of the Rebellions of 1837, constitutional change was expected to flow from achieving other objectives, most often economic, and usually believed attainable through annexation to the United States. Unlike countries with which she has much in common, Great Britain and Australia, Canada...

    • 2 The Appeal of Republicanism
      (pp. 37-59)

      A choice without an explanation is no choice at all. Neither is there a republican option when the substance of republicanism remains unexplored. Just as door-step purchases of vinyl siding, for example, are covered by a buyerʹs protection act that demands full disclosure of the terms on offer, so citizens need information about republicanism in order to make an informed decision about its merits. References in the preceding chapter to parliamentary republicanism suggest little of the rich complexity found in the theoretical concept or embedded in the governmental forms derived from that concept.

      This chapter will trace the genealogy of...

    • 3 Canadian Attitudes: The Search for Constitutional Balance in Pre-Confederation Canada
      (pp. 60-92)

      Responsible government is the rock of Canadaʹs political system. On it all else depends. Its ʹachievementʹ is the story of countless history textbooks, its importance invariably celebrated by a coda recounting the countryʹs long advance to autonomy in the Empire-Commonwealth. The combined work of English- and French-speaking moderates, responsible government symbolized Canada to the world and to itself. Reference to achievement implies adversity overcome. Lord DurhamʹsReportand, more particularly, the emphasis interpreters have placed on its recommendation of local self-government, confirm the source of that resistance – officialdom in the colonies and in the Colonial Office.

      The translation of...

  6. Part II

    • 4 Representation
      (pp. 95-119)

      Republicanism is about representation, monarchy about participation. The first part of that assertion, which is the subject of this chapter, is easier to demonstrate than the second. Catharine Macaulay argued that the origins of republicanism could be traced to a first cause: in her time, to the great revolutions of the eighteenth century. Republics, in short, were created. Monarchies, on the other hand, most particularly of the English-British-Anglo-American-Imperial variety, emerged and evolved through the sharing of power; in the process, they incorporated and assimilated previously excluded partners. From the Great Reform Act of the reign of William IV, to Victoriaʹs...

    • 5 Participation
      (pp. 120-143)

      American republicanism was depicted in the previous chapter as rule from outside, constitutional monarchy as rule from inside. The legitimacy of governmental institutions in the first instance depends upon the adequacy of representation structures, in the second upon the share of Crown power held by other parts of Parliament. A fundamental difference between the two forms lies in the orientation of the people to institutions of government. Republicanism posits an engaged public, not just (or even primarily) at elections, which come at regular intervals, but in between as well. If a republic truly signified ʹrepresentation from the people,ʹ it had...

    • 6 Federalism
      (pp. 144-173)

      The previous two chapters looked at representation and participation. This chapter looks at these subjects again, only this time in the guise of federalism. For the modern federal design, conceived at Philadelphia, took the form it did in response to demands rooted in concerns about representation and participation. This is not to say that the federal scheme the Framers agreed upon allayed all fears – the anti-Federalists rejected any claim that it did. It is to say that even the schemeʹs opponents concurred with the object – enhanced participation. With that as the goal, debate turned on the manner of...

    • 7 Citizenship
      (pp. 174-196)

      Republicanism and citizenship are naturally related, whereas monarchy and citizenship are related only through adoption. For any one raised in the British parliamentary and monarchical tradition, the most arresting scenes inA Tale of Two Citiesare not those of the Revolution or the Terror that succeeded it, but of a society in which customary authority and guardians have vanished. The foreignness of that possibility is matched only by the impersonal attribution ofcitoyenandcitoyenneto one and every Frenchman, as if citizenship alone were the basis of society. Here, through depiction of mood and atmosphere rather than by...

  7. Part III

    • 8 Contexts and Contrasts
      (pp. 199-224)

      As with so much in its history, Canadaʹs indigenous republican movement – Papineau, the Patriotes, and their heirs, for example – remained a regional phenomenon. Indeed, the very fact that republicanism was identified most often with French-Canadian nationalism underlined its foreignness for the rest of the country. The short-lived Rebellions of 1837, the early acquisition and mastery of the mechanics of responsible government, the repeated linkage of republicanism with annexation to the United States, and the efflorescence of British imperialism in the closing decades of the last century displaced republicanism as a subject of debate. (The expanded franchise under the...

  8. 9 Conclusion
    (pp. 225-232)

    Born of revolution against a common mother country, modern republican government was deemed permanently suspect ever after in Canadian eyes. More than the circumstances of its birth disqualified republicanism, however, since at its core the new theory of politics proclaimed the sovereignty of the people through a system of representation based on popular election. Of course, there was a huge discrepancy between the theory and the fact of popular sovereignty – as a start, women and slaves were excluded from participation. Nonetheless, in its presupposition that those who ruled were agents of the ruled and governed by their consent, American...

  9. Epilogue
    (pp. 233-238)

    The effacement of constitutional monarchy in the process of building a republic is more complex and delicate than its proponents allow. Monarchy in a modern democracy, they claim, is anachronistic and inappropriate, its functions ceremonial and symbolic. That being said, the progress of republicanism in Australia is proving neither invincible nor inevitable. A sample of the uncertainty that surrounds the cause was placed on offer by the Constitutional Convention held in Canberra in February 1998.

    The Convention represented the third step in the testing of the republican idea. The first had been Paul Keatingʹs declaration in 1995 that Australia should...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 239-306)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 307-338)
  12. Index
    (pp. 339-352)