The Reform Party's Re-Imagining of the Canadian Nation

By Patten, Steve | Journal of Canadian Studies, Spring 1999 | Go to article overview

The Reform Party's Re-Imagining of the Canadian Nation


Patten, Steve, Journal of Canadian Studies


Accepting that national political communities are continually (re)invented through political and ideological struggle, this paper examines the way in which the Reform Party of Canada has brought its New Right populist discourse to three nation-defining areas of public policy: (i) bilingualism and the status of Quebec within Canadian federalism; (ii) multiculturalism and immigration; and (iii) Aboriginal self-governance. With reference to theoretically driven interpretations of how "the politics of cultural recognition" challenges the ideal of "universal citizenship," it is argued that Reform's vision of Canada is based on an exclusionary discourse which would limit the political and cultural capacities of Quebecois nationalists, ethnocultural minorities and Aboriginal peoples who are struggling to define the Canadian political community in a manner that allows them to assert their collective identities and pursue particular destinies.

Acceptant l'idee que les communautes nationales politiques sont continuellement (re)inventees a travels des combats politiques et ideologiques, cette etude examine la facon dont le parti canadien de la reforme a apporte, dans le cadre de la nouvelle droite, son propre discours populiste dans trois domaines nationaux critiques de la politique publique: (1) le bilinguisme et le statut du Quebec au sein du federalisme canadien, (2) le rnulticulturalisme et l'immigration, et (3) l'autonomie gouvernementale autochtone. Selon des references d'interpretations theoriques affirmant que 'la politique de reconnaissance culturelle conteste l'ideal de la 'citoyennete universelle,' l'etude affirme que la vision du Canada du parti de la reforme est base sur un discours d'exclusion. Celui-ci limite les capacites politiques et culturelles des nationalistes quebecois/es, des minorites ethnoculturelles et des peuples autochtones qui luttent pour definir la communaute politique canadienne afin de pouvoir affirmer leurs identites collectives et poursuivre leurs destines uniques.

In the final days of the 1995 Quebec referendum, Jean Chretien promised Quebeckers that if they rejected sovereignty his government would ensure the formal recognition of Quebec as a "distinct society" within Canada.1 Then, feeling the pressure of an extraordinarily close vote - 49.4 per cent voted in favour of secession - Chretien moved quickly to introduce into the House of Commons a non-constitutional resolution that recognizes Quebec as a distinct society and commits the government of Canada to be guided by this fundamental political reality. Not wanting to be seen to snub Quebecois nationalists who are soft on separation, Preston Manning committed himself to supporting Chretien's distinct society resolution, but only if it was amended to safeguard explicitly the integrity of Canada, ensure the equality of the provinces and protect minority rights within the province of Quebec. In particular, Manning said he would be willing to recognize Quebec as a distinct society so long as nothing in the resolution would "deny or be interpreted as denying that Canada constitutes one nation."2

What does it mean to say that Canada constitutes "one nation"? Clearly Preston Manning's rhetoric was meant as a rejection of the dualist conception of Canada as a compact between two "founding nations." The Reform Party leader has never supported this vision of the Canadian community. Indeed, since the party was founded in 1987, Manning and his fellow Reformers have been vocal critics of the understanding of Quebec's place within Canada that is usually implied by the dualist notion of "distinct society."3 But what conception of Canada's national political community does Reform champion in place of dualism? How would Preston Manning characterize this "one nation" which is Canada? These are not simple or straightforward questions to answer. They are, nevertheless, important questions because throughout the 1990s the Reform Party has been a participant in political debates about the definition and character of Canada's national political community. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Reform Party's Re-Imagining of the Canadian Nation
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.