Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Federalism, Citizenship and Quebec: Debating Multinationalism

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Federalism, Citizenship and Quebec: Debating Multinationalism

Article excerpt

Alain-G. Gagnon and Raffaele Iacovino, Federalism, Citizenship and Quebec: Debating Multinationalism (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), 217pp. Cased. £40. ISBN 0-8020-9448-1. Paper. £18. ISBN 0-8020-9216-0.

Given the recent debates surrounding the place of Quebec in Canada, in both the Liberal Party of Canada leadership race and the House of Commons motion recognising Quebec's nationhood, this book could not have come at a more opportune time. Gagnon and Iacovino present a well-researched and well-argued manuscript, which gives exceptional insight into Québécois interpretations of the Canadian state. This work offers the reader a view of federalism that challenges the orthodoxy of provincial equality and undifferentiated citizenship that is prevalent in much of Canada outside of Quebec. By challenging these understandings of federalism, and expanding upon our understanding of what federalism means, the authors make an invaluable contribution not only to Canadian political science, but also to the broader political theory of multinational and multi-level governance.

While this book is entitled Debating Multinationalism, it should be noted that one of its weaknesses is that it does not analyse the debate per se; rather, it participates in it, and at some points stretches the logic of its arguments. This is apparent in its attack on the federal Clarity Act as being undemocratic. In arguing that a simple yes/no question would be more confusing than the question asked in 1995, the authors seem to equate Canada with English Canada, and fail to recognise that the federal government, alongside the provincial government in Quebec, has a duty to protect Quebec citizens and that the federal government has no legal or political authority to negotiate anything other than a complete split from Canada. …

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