The JCS at the Millennium

Article excerpt

On the weekend of 25-26 September 1998, the newly constituted Editorial Board of the Journal of Canadian Studies met for a retreat at Massey College in Toronto. The objective of the retreat was essentially to position the JCS for the next millennium.

The JCS faces the typical challenges of an academic journal, whose existence has been made precarious by uncertain funding and rising costs, and the Board confronted these realities. We were gratified to have our SSHRC funding renewed recently and Trent University continues to provide generous support. The Board is determined to ensure the Journal's existence and to direct the Journal's energies in a re-focussed and relevant way.

The Journal's experience has reflected the interdisciplinary mission of Canadian Studies and the larger "Canada" project writ large. The Journal remains committed to the cause of "knowing ourselves," in T.H.B. Symons's memorable phrase. But the "ourselves" that we are trying to know has been and is changing in rapidly if not bewildering ways. We intend to track and analyse the changed Canadian project, to encourage, exhort and help the development of the appropriate interdisciplinary tools, concepts and approaches required to this end, and to explain and illustrate to ourselves and the world what it is that makes Canada unique.

What are the changing circumstances on which the Board wants the JCS to focus? Take, for example, Canada's "nationhood." What is the meaning of the Canadian "nation" at the end of the millennium? Is it Macdonald's "national dream"? Trudeau's vision of a bilingual and bicultural nation? There has been a steady questioning and unpacking of the idea of the two founding nations, an increasing uneasiness about the bilingualism project, a schizophrenia about the meaning of distinct society, a stunning expansion of Canada's ethnic mosaic, a remarkable political experiment in the North and an acceptance that aboriginal nationhood is an idea whose time has come. Canada can more easily be characterised as a multiple nation and it expresses a set of nationalisms. Is Canada the first post-modern nation? What is it that others see in us that they find attractive or interesting? We want to help to develop adequate tools and concepts to understand this multiple nation, and to assist the evolution of discourses and institutions - political and otherwise - to serve this emerging reality.

Canada's recent economic experience can be conceptualised in similar fashion. Indeed, what is the Canadian economy? The parade has passed on the national project surrounding Macdonald's National Policy, as a result of the West's political economic muscle, technological change and the national embracing of internationalisation and free trade. The West played the advance guard in disrupting the postwar Keynesian consensus around the welfare state. As deficits, taxes, regulations and Crown corporations dissolve, the notion of the "public" Canada disappears as well, to be replaced by. . ? In the place of earlier visions, what has emerged are northsouth trade flows, cross-border regional economic areas, and an internationalization so intense (and periodically perverse) that Canadian governments cannot seem to manage their domestic economies and currency (the latter is inherently valued at around US$. …