Reimagining Canada: Language, Culture, Community, and the Canadian Constitution

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9780773511460: Reimagining Canada: Language, Culture, Community, and the Canadian Constitution
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Webber begins by showing how different conceptions of culture, language, and nation shaped Canada's constitutional negotiations from 1960 until the referendum of 1992. He then calls for a reconception of the terms of the debate, claiming that the terms now used, often borrowed from quite different societies, have made resolution of the constitutional issues more difficult. He rejects the language of nation and nationalism, and the tendency towards exclusiveness implicit in that language, arguing for a Canadian community founded not on a rigid set of "shared values" but on shared debates and shared engagements through time. Recognizing that Canadians belong simultaneously to the larger community and to other more local communities each generating its own sense of allegiance Webber describes how their relationships are shaped by institutional, linguistic, and cultural factors and notes that these multiple influences produce an asymmetrical structure. He maintains that this structure should be reflected in an assymetrical constitution, and can be accommodated without undermining individual rights. Webber offers both an overview of the constitutional negotiations and a set of reflections on the appropriate relationship between culture, language, and political community in Canada. These reflections, while rooted in the Canadian context, hold lessons for other pluralistic federations, or for nations confronting similar issues of cultural accommodation.

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"The book goes beyond its subject matter -- constitutional negotiations -- offering an imaginative, indeed philosophical, examination of how Canada has carried and should carry these out." Jenefer Curtis, Ottawa Citizen. "After all the anger and polemic of the constitutional debate, Webber's is a voice of reason -- calm, respectful of his adversaries, and tremendously insightful into the foundations of our constitutional system. This book breaks new ground, and shows how a constitution can be written for a diverse society like Canada's. He has moved the debate to a new level, by challenging the outdated concepts in which it is usually cast. This book will serve not only Canada, but will make a valuable contribution to constitution-building in the myriad of more diverse societies which are emerging on the world scene." Charles Taylor, Department of Philosophy, McGill University. "I found this an engaging, illuminating, and inspiring work, a model of incisive analysis and broad vision ... The work is notable for its sensitivity to the particular historical practices and arrangements which shape current constitutional attitudes and goals in Canada. In particular, the author's defence of asymmetry as a basic constitutional principle in Canada is the best that I have seen, and, in my opinion, is both original and persuasive ... The work is beautifully written clear, comprehensible, and suitably un-stuffy in manner and tone ... It should find an audience not only among people with a professional or academic interest in constitutional matters but also among a wider readership with an interest in public affairs." Brian Slattery, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University. "The book's strength lies in the lucid and penetrating way in which Webber helps us understand how our constitutional system in a principled manner could accommodate the cultural and linguistic diversity of the Canadian community." Peter Russell, Department of Political Science, University of Toronto.

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9780773511521: Reimagining Canada: Language, Culture, Community, and the Canadian Constitution

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ISBN 10:  0773511520 ISBN 13:  9780773511521
Publisher: McGill-Queen's University P..., 1994
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