The European Roots of Canadian Identity

The European Roots of Canadian Identity

PHILIP RESNICK
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 125
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2ttrm6
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  • Book Info
    The European Roots of Canadian Identity
    Book Description:

    "This book offers an engaging insight into the European origins of the national values of Canadians and their future challenges. Excellent! Timely!" - Raymond Chretien, Former Canadian Ambassador to the United States and France

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0232-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-6)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. 7-10)
    PR
  4. CHAPTER ONE THE CANADIAN ENIGMA
    (pp. 11-20)

    What I take to be the Canadian enigma is caught up with a specifically Canadian set of challenges. These challenges stem from Canada’s ongoing history as a North American society, with a predominantly British and French cast to its original population, living cheek by jowl with the most powerful country of the modern world and absorbing, over time, a bewildering mixture of people of diverse ethnic backgrounds into its population.

    The Canadian enigma is further caught up with what, at the level of the imagination, one might call a contested form of national identity. By this I mean a persistent...

  5. CHAPTER TWO PARTICULARISTIC VS. UNIVERSALISTIC IDENTITIES
    (pp. 21-30)

    It is a well-known feature of Canadian history that this country, unlike the United States, was not born of revolution. Instead of thenovus ordo seculorum(the new order of the ages) that the American founding fathers set out to create after the success of the thirteen colonies in the revolutionary wars, Canada’s founding fathers were satisfied with achieving Dominion status within the British Empire, with a constitution modelled on that of Great Britain. French Canadians, for their part, the failed rebellions of 1837–38 aside, had imbibed little of the revolutionary spirit from either France or the United States,...

  6. CHAPTER THREE AS CANADIAN AS POSSIBLE UNDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES
    (pp. 31-38)

    Between the two world wars, Canada had begun to acquire greater autonomy from Great Britain. This autonomy was marked in the international arena by Canadian membership in the League of Nations; by the opening of Canadian embassies in Washington, Paris, and Tokyo; by Canada signing international treaties in its own name; and by the formal recognition of the self-governing character of the Dominions through the Statute of Westminster of 1931.

    Economically, Canada had shed its reliance on British capital. Despite a short-lived attempt to revive imperial preferences at the 1932 Imperial Conference in Ottawa, preferential tariffs between Canada and the...

  7. CHAPTER FOUR MULTINATIONAL REALITIES AND AMBIGUOUS IDENTITIES
    (pp. 39-48)

    One of the signal changes in Canada over the past half-century has been the development of more civic, as opposed to ethnic, versions of national identity. As the British-based version of Canadian national identity that had dominated down to World War II receded, so too did the privileging of the Charter British group over Canadians of other origins. Access to post-secondary education, to the professions, to government employment, even to public office came to have less to do with one’s ethnic origin and more with being a Canadian citizen, either by birth or naturalization. By the late 1960s, Canadian immigration...

  8. CHAPTER FIVE THE CANADIAN SOCIAL CONTRACT
    (pp. 49-56)

    Medicare has become a veritable Canadian icon, distinguishing Canada from the United States. At one level, this is a rather odd phenomenon, since Medicare has been around only for about four decades and was hotly contested—doctors’ strike and all—when it was first introduced in Saskatchewan in the early 1960s. Moreover, the Canadian health system is facing serious fiscal problems. The Romanow Commission has proposed a series of solutions; and it remains to be seen just what the federal government and the provinces will be able to hammer out as their response in the years to come.

    Nonetheless, there...

  9. CHAPTER SIX IS MULTICULTURALISM ENOUGH ?
    (pp. 57-64)

    A prominent feature of Canadian society is the place that multiculturalism has come to occupy in public discourse. Multiculturalism is a relatively recent innovation, dating from the aftermath of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism that was established in the early 1960s in the wake of Quebec’s Quiet Revolution to address the conflict between French and English Canadian aspirations. While the major upshot of the Commission’s hearings and report was the passage of the Official Languages Act, giving recognition to English and French as Canada’s two official languages, the Commission also played a critical role in launching Canada on...

  10. CHAPTER SEVEN CANADA AND THE PAX AMERICANA
    (pp. 65-72)

    Almost from its inception, the United States seemed destined to play a leading role in world affairs. Despite George Washington’s Farewell Address, disdaining “permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world,” Alexander Hamilton turned out to be the better prophet: “America would erelong assume an attitude correspondent with its great destinies…. A noble career lies before it.”⁸⁰ Herman Melville, in one of his mid-nineteenth century novels, gives voice to the messianic dream underlying the American spirit. “We Americans are the peculiar chosen people—the Israel of our time. We bear the ark of the liberties of the world.”⁸¹

    Woodrow...

  11. CHAPTER EIGHT AMERICANNESS VS. EUROPEANNESS
    (pp. 73-82)

    In a passage that dates from the period of the American Revolution, Jean de Crèvecoeur, a Frenchman by origin but an American by adaptation, wrote, “Heis an American who, leaving behind all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced…. The American ought therefore to love this country much better than that wherein either he or his forefathers were born.”¹⁰⁹ It is hard to imagine a Canadian penning such a passage. Indeed, as our earlier discussion would suggest, Europe continued to occupy a role in the Canadianimaginaire, both English...

  12. CHAPTER NINE THE CULTURAL IMPERATIVE
    (pp. 83-88)

    Towards the dawn of the Cold War, Harold Innis, the distinguished Canadian economic historian, argued, “We can only survive by taking persistent action at strategic points against American imperialism in all its attractive guises.”¹³¹ Innis was prepared to see the United States in a way that most of his compatriots at the time were not—as the seat of a powerful and overweening empire. But there were many things attractive about the American empire (unlike say the Soviet) that made it a more difficult force to resist.

    Perhaps the single greatest danger came from homogenisation—the American way of life...

  13. CHAPTER TEN THE METAPHYSICS OF CANADIAN IDENTITY
    (pp. 89-98)

    As I have argued in the course of this essay, a number of elements go into the making of Canadian identity. These include European historical connections, a North American geographical setting, multiple national identities, robust social programs, multicultural practices, increasingly secular values, and a multilateral outlook on international affairs.

    However, what is the dominant motif in Canadian political culture, the one that more than any other sets it off from its American counterpart? That element, I am tempted to argue, is self-doubt. Doubt about who we are—one or many, solidaristic or apart. About the ultimate purpose behind the Canadian...

  14. NOTES
    (pp. 99-110)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 111-116)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 117-125)