McRoberts on Trudeau and national unity

2013-08-03

in Books and literature, Law, Politics

The argument of this book is that the roots of the present [national unity] crisis lie in decisions made in the 1960s. More specifically, they lie with Pierre Elliott Trudeau’s ‘national unity’ strategy, at the centre of which was an attempt to implant a new Canadian identity. ‘National unity’, it was presumed, meant that all Canadians must see their country and their place in it in exactly the same way.

In particular, this meant persuading Quebec francophones to abandon their historical attachment to the notion of a distinct francophone national collectivity, centred in Quebec and firmly linked to the Quebec government. Through such measures as official bilingualism and a constitutionally entrenched charter of rights, francophones were to be incorporated into Canada as a whole and to adopt a vision of Canada that included multiculturalism and the equality of the provinces.

As this book will show, the national unity strategy failed abysmally to change the way Quebec francophones see Canada. Indeed, the attachment of Quebec francophones to Quebec as their primary identity is stronger than ever, and they are more determined than ever that Quebec should be recognized as a distinct society.

It is ironic that the national unity strategy, although conceived primarily in relation to Quebec, has had its main impact, not in Quebec, but in the rest of the country and has transformed the way many English Canadians think of Canada. As such elements of the Trudeau strategy as a charter of rights, multiculturalism, or the equality of the provinces have become central to English Canadians’ view of Canada, so they have destroyed any willingness to recognize Quebec as a distinct society. Indeed, within the Trudeau strategy these principles were intended to negate Quebec’s claim to recognition.

McRoberts, Kenneth. Misconceiving Canada: The Struggle for National Unity. 1997. (p.xii, paperback)

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. August 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Québécois nation motion

The Québécois nation motion was a parliamentary motion tabled by Prime Minister of Canada Stephen Harper on Wednesday, November 22, 2006 and approved by the House of Commons of Canada on Monday, November 27, 2006. The English motion read:

“That this House recognize that the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada.”

and, in French, read:

“Que cette Chambre reconnaisse que les Québécoises et les Québécois forment une nation au sein d’un Canada uni.”

. August 3, 2013 at 8:08 pm

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