Canada's Origins

Canada's Origins: Liberal, Tory, or Republican?

Janet Ajzenstat
Peter J. Smith
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 301
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt802t8
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  • Book Info
    Canada's Origins
    Book Description:

    Ajzenstat and Smith challenge the idea of Canada as a country whose liberal individualism, unlike that of the United States, is redeemed by a tradition of government intervention in economic and social life: the so-called "tory touch." This ground-breaking book begins with the now classic article in which the red tory view was formulated. It then presents a new and illuminating picture of Canadian political life, in which liberal individualism confronts not toryism but the participatory tradition of civic republicanism. In the final section the two editors, one a liberal, the other a civic republican, debate the crucial questions dominating Canadian politics today-including Quebec's search for recognition-from the perspective of their shared understanding of Canada's founding.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8042-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PART I: CANADA’S ORIGINS IN NEW PERSPECTIVE
    • CHAPTER ONE LIBERAL-REPUBLICANISM: THE REVISIONIST PICTURE OF CANADA’S FOUNDING
      (pp. 1-18)
      Janet Ajzenstat and Peter J. Smith

      Twenty years ago it would have been a relatively straightforward matter to describe the formation of the Canadian political culture. The standard view argued that Lockean liberalism was the dominant influence in the nineteenth century, modified only by a strain of tory conservatism. The synthesis of liberalism, with its emphasis on equality, and tory notions of collectivity and the common good gave rise to socialism in its turn. In the late twentieth century the impact of the nineteenth-century ideologies could still be seen. Predominantly liberal, subject to occasional nostalgic fits of toryism, Canada was increasingly ready to welcome a socialist...

  5. PART II: THE TORY PARADIGM
    • CHAPTER TWO CONSERVATISM, LIBERALISM, AND SOCIALISM IN CANADA: AN INTERPRETATION
      (pp. 21-44)
      Gad Horowitz

      In the United States, organized socialism is dead; in Canada, socialism, though far from national power, is a significant political force. Why this striking difference in the fortunes of socialism in two very similar societies? It will be shown that the relative strength of socialism in Canada is related to the relative strength of toryism, and to the different position and character of liberalism in the two countries.

      In North America, Canada is unique. Yet there is a tendency in Canadian historical and political studies to explain Canadian phenomena not by contrasting them with American phenomena but by identifying them...

  6. PART III: REPUBLICAN INFLUENCE
    • CHAPTER THREE THE IDEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF CANADIAN CONFEDERATION
      (pp. 47-78)
      Peter J. Smith

      This article discusses the ideological origins of Canadian Confederation. It directly challenges a belief commonly held by Canadian political scientists and historians that Canadian Confederation was the product of a purely pragmatic exercise.¹ It will argue instead that the ideological origins of the Canadian federal state may be traced to the debate that characterized eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British, American, and French political culture, a debate between the defenders of classical republican values and the proponents of a rising commercial ideology formulated during the Enlightenment. The participants in this debate held clashing views of the state and its role in society....

    • CHAPTER FOUR THE FIRST DISTINCT SOCIETY: FRENCH CANADA, AMERICA, AND THE CONSTITUTION OF 1791
      (pp. 79-108)
      Louis-Georges Harvey

      Since its inception, Canadian constitutionalism has struggled with the definitions of collective identity that came into conflict with its individualistic and libertarian foundations. In the case of the Constitutional Act it was the constitution’s inability to accommodate the aspirations of French Canadian politicians that led to its ignominious and violent demise in Lower Canada. Still, the inherent limitations of a colonial constitution never intended to confer local autonomy do not solely explain its rejection in Lower Canada. For even had the constitution been amended by the mystical formula of responsible government, thePatrioteswould have rejected it. As Papineau pointed...

    • CHAPTER FIVE CIVIC HUMANISM VERSUS LIBERALISM: FITTING THE LOYALISTS IN
      (pp. 109-136)
      Peter J. Smith

      For nearly two decades scholars have been vigorously debating the place of John Locke and liberalism in eighteenth-century Anglo-American political thought.¹ The debate, particularly heated among historians and political scientists, centres on the question of which language or political discourse was dominant in the eighteenth century, liberalism or civic humanism. Closely related is the question of how liberalism arose. Was it a response to civic humanism and a defence of commercial society, or did it emerge independently of civic humanism, from its roots in the Western natural law or jurisprudential tradition? Merely posing these questions points to an extraordinary upheaval...

  7. PART IV: LIBERAL ROOTS
    • CHAPTER SIX DURHAM AND ROBINSON: POLITICAL FACTION AND MODERATION
      (pp. 139-158)
      Janet Ajzenstat

      What is perhaps the most widely accepted thesis in Canadian political thought Supposes that, until well into the twentieth century, Canada’s political culture exhibited traces of a conservatism that originated with the United Empire Loyalists. Gad Horowitz, whose exposition of the thesis is always the starting point for debates on Canada’s national identity, argues that the Loyalists and their tory party heirs in English Canada rejected aspects of the American liberal ideology, especially the liberal emphasis on individual freedoms. They had a vision of the political community as “organic,” and “hierarchical”; they were willing to entertain the idea that the...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN THE TRIUMPH OF LIBERALISM IN CANADA: LAURIER ON REPRESENTATION AND PARTY GOVERNMENT
      (pp. 159-180)
      Rainer Knopff

      Modern party government as we know it in the West rests on liberal foundations. Only with the development and general acceptance of liberal principles did it become possible to conceive of parties as normal and legitimate political phenomena, and to establish a system of party government in which self-consciously competitive parties alternate peacefully in office.¹ In previous eras politics was often a battle between what Tocqueville called “great parties.”² Based on competing visions of the best way of life or the true road to salvation, “great parties” tended to see each other not as legitimate opponents in a game whose...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT EGERTON RYERSON’S CANADIAN LIBERALISM
      (pp. 181-208)
      Colin D. Pearce

      Egerton Ryerson has most frequently been characterized by scholars as a Loyalist, Royalist conservative.¹ This judgment is usually rendered even as his efforts in the direction of modernizing educational and constitutional reforms are acknowledged. Such broad labels undoubtedly capture something of Ryerson’s temperament, but this essay will attempt to provide a more precise description of his political principles. It will argue that the particular blend of ideas expounded by Ryerson is connected to his awareness of the problems and weaknesses in the theory of liberal, commercial society, a theory to which, nevertheless, he remained attached.

      In general, the problem with...

    • CHAPTER NINE THE CONSTITUTIONALISM OF ÉTIENNE PARENT AND JOSEPH HOWE
      (pp. 209-232)
      Janet Ajzenstat

      Two sharply different political ideologies—two visions of good government—shaped colonial politics in the British North America of the 1830s. Proponents of the first argued that the constitutional tradition inherited from Britain had subjected the inhabitants of British North America to the rule of intolerant and unjust élites. The constitution of 1791 had to be overturned, by force if necessary. When power had been seized from the imperial party in the colonies, it would be possible to establish a true democracy, government by “the people.”

      The second ideology rejected the idea that colonial grievances could be remedied by the...

    • CHAPTER TEN THE PROVINCIAL RIGHTS MOVEMENT: TENSIONS BETWEEN LIBERTY AND COMMUNITY IN LEGAL LIBERALISM
      (pp. 233-262)
      Robert C. Vipond

      During the first decade of Confederation there was no serious partisan disagreement about the general rules governing the federal government’s exercise of disallowance. The opposition, whether Liberal or Conservative, sometimes quibbled with the government’s use of the power in particular cases, but there was no disagreement about the general principle that the disallowance of provincial legislation was legitimate as long as, but only as long as, it was confined to jurisdictional questions. That consensus was shattered in the 1880s. As the nation-building pretensions of the Macdonald government grew, so did its use of disallowance. And as disallowance came to be...

  8. PART V: LOOKING AHEAD
    • CHAPTER ELEVEN CANADA’S POLITICAL CULTURE TODAY: LIBERAL, REPUBLICAN, OR THIRD WAVE?
      (pp. 265-282)
      Peter J. Smith and Janet Ajzenstat

      Let’s think about what our new picture of Canadian political history tells us about Canada today. I’d say our interpretation calls in question some standard ideas about the Canadian political culture and national character. The old “tory touch” school maintains that the Canadian way of life is different from the American, and better, because Canada, unlike the U.S., has been shaped by a tory ideology that encourages governments to use state power for communal ends. I think Canadians would sell their soul for an academic theory that says that Canada is not like the U.S. It’s no wonder that the...

  9. THE ORIGINS OF CANADIAN IDEOLOGY: A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 283-288)