Comment 2400

By (anonymous) | Posted November 29, 2006 at 12:45:40

Some questions:

1. If Canada is truly multinational, as McGreal writes, then why the problem with naming one of those nations?

2. Much like white people don't think they have a colour, and men don't think they have a gender, does McGreal think that Canadian nationalism does not exist?

3. Is nationalism truly about chauvinism? Or does it provide the shared horizon required for democracy to work at the level of the nation-state? Is it not in fact a horizon of meaning intervening between the individual and the universal?

4. If the guiding principle of Canada is truly tolerance, as McGreal writes, then why can we not tolerate a democratic discussion about the contours of our political community, including longstanding claims by Quebecers that they form a nation within Canada?

In short, when I look at this very typical attack on the recognition of Quebec, which vaunts the open-ness to diversity of Canada, what I see is in fact that this open-ness is thin and limited to the question of multiculturalism, and is in fact quite intolerant and unwilling to consider other diversities, such as those of nationality. As the Canadian philosopher James Tully has argued, one condition of freedom in our complex society is a willingness to recognize the identities of others, and to engage in a respectful dialogue about the nature of the political community.

I share next to no political values with Stephen Harper, but I respect his willingness and his guts to recognize that Canadian democracy requires a need for ongoing dialogue and debate about what we are. The Quebec issue, like the aboriginal question, cannot be solved once and for all with a magical formula. Yet, we will be neighbours forever, and so it seems to me to be preferable to maintain a dialogue, rather than refusing to listen to the other.

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