Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Beyond National Dreams: Essays on Canadian Citizenship and Nationalism

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Beyond National Dreams: Essays on Canadian Citizenship and Nationalism

Article excerpt

Andrew Nurse and Raymond Blake (eds), Beyond National Dreams: Essays on Canadian Citizenship and Nationalism (Markham: Fitzhenry and Whiteside, 2009), 432pp. Paper. $38.95. ISBN 978-1-55041-969-6.

This new study of Canada's identity promises a 'different way of narrating the Canadian experience' (p. 2). Political scientists, historians, journalists, geographers and others investigate the evolving character of Canadian nationalism; the changing nature of citizenship; the implications of ethnic diversity and internal national loyalties amongst Quebecers, aboriginals and immigrants; and Canada's place in world affairs. The twelve contributors explore Canada's 'sense of possibility'. Their theme derives from what the editors call 'the dominant (although not the only) philosophy of contemporary Canadian nationalism': Michael Ignatieff 's liberal-individualist vision of an ethnically diverse 'civic nation', admired and emulated for its shared commitment to an inclusive rights-oriented political order which supersedes ethnicity as an object of allegiance (pp. 2-3).

For Andrew Nurse, Ignatieff's Canada reflects liberal icon Pierre Trudeau; all Canadians are equals with a common set of rights defined individually, not collectively through group loyalties. Nurse detects Ignatieff 's ambivalence. Ignatieff senses danger in an immigrant population larger and faster growing than in Trudeau's time. Unless immigrants embrace Canada's civic nationalist rights discourse, they may imperil national unity by retaining Balkans-like divisive, exclusive and irrational ethnic nationalist attachments. However, unlike Trudeau, Ignatieff accepts that Quebecers' primary allegiance resides decisively with Quebec, not Canada. To avert Quebec's secession, Canadians must recognise collective rights by affirming Quebecers' status as a nation within Canada. But Nurse warns that Canadians cannot reconcile collective rights with civic nationalism. He contends that Ignatieff, who acknowledges civic nationalism's incapacity to neutralise ethnic nationalism's emotional power, betrays 'passionate concern and worry' that Canada's diversities may jeopardise his vision (pp. …

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