Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Speaking Up: A History of Language and Politics in Canada and Quebec

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Speaking Up: A History of Language and Politics in Canada and Quebec

Article excerpt

Marcel Martel and Martin Pâquet, Speaking Up: A History of Language and Politics in Canada and Quebec (Toronto: Between the Lines Press, 2012), 312 pp. Paper. $29.95. ISBN 978-1-926662-93-0.

This book (which is an English translation of a multi-award winning book published in French by the authors in 2010) explores the history of language and politics in Canada and Quebec from the sixteenth century to the present. Through this broad historical narrative it focuses on particular highpoints, including, 'From religion to language: 1539-1848'; 'The school crises in Canada, 1848-1927'; 'From the repeal of Regulation 17 to the Laurendeau-Dunton Commission, 1927-63'; 'Action-reaction: Commissions of inquiry and agitation, 1963-69'; 'Language laws, 1969-82'; and 'Law and language since 1982'.

One of the strengths of the book is the dispassionate way in which the authors deal with a very controversial and politically laden issue in both Canada and Quebec: language and politics. Martel and Pâquet make the point that language and politics as an issue has evolved over a long period and was very much influenced by the historical context at the time. So, for example, in the aftermath of the rebellions in the Canadas in the 1840s there was a rise of French linguistic nationalism which gathered strength in light of the Durham Report and the unification of the Canadas and Durham's openly declared goal of assimilating French-Canadians into an 'English' Canada. The school crises in Canada during the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, particularly in Ontario and Manitoba, highlighted to French-Canadians that the English-speaking majority of the country did not envisage Canada to be an equal domain for both of the founding European peoples. …

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