Canada's Ongoing Identity Crisis: What Are We Now?

1830 words - 8 pages

Canada is really big, and this causes a unique problem. Canada has an identity crisis. The Spicer Commission (Spicer, 1991) showed us that by giving us the Canada Clause, essentially stating Canada is one nation and a dual nations, three nations and multicultural, centralized and decentralized. All of these identities are equally supported at different times in history. For example, directly following The Great Depression, public support for the Federal government was very high and Canada was described as obviously One Nation and very centralized (Canadiana, 2001-2005) . Alternatively, during the 1880's, the JCPC ruled in favour of the provinces in many major jurisdictional cases, giving the provinces more power and giving credit to Canada being a Compact Nation (Hodge v. the Queen, 1883). The question remains, however, what is Canada's identity now?
That is what I seek to answer in this paper. I propose that Canada is in a transitional period involving multiple theories that must eventually end in a new theory of Canada. At this moment, based on the current political atmosphere, policies, and movements throughout Canada, I define Canada as being equal parts Trudeau's One Nation, Three Nations, a Compact Nation, and a Multi-Nation State.
To defend this end, I will define each of the four nation theories I argue make up Canada at the moment: Compact theory, Three Nation, Trudeau's One Nation, and Multi-Nation. Using historical examples, I will give criteria for Canada being each identity, and use the criteria to show that Canada presently belongs to each theory. Finally, I will argue why Canada will have to develop an altogether new nation theory.

First, it is important to note that theses Canadian identities are defined by power and the shift of power. Each theory grants power to a different group or body, and in doing so redefines Canada in that image. Second, the primary nation theory changes through time, with each new nation theory coming up to replace the old. I have the theories ordered chronological order through this paper, starting withfederal government the Compact Theory and ending with the Multi-Nation Theory.

“Canadians confirm the principle of equality of the provinces at the same time as recognizing their diverse characteristics” (Chotalia, ). The Compact Theory of Canada is the longest surviving theory of the four nation theories that define Canada presently. It heralds from the very moment following Confederation, the beginning of the power struggles between the provincial and Federal governments, and proceeds from the idea that Confederation was the coming together of provinces to protect boundaries. As there was an overbearing fear throughout British North America of being annexed by the United States, the joining is beneficial and thus is a logical motive for Confederation.
This fear stemmed from the United States' doctrine of the “Manifest Destiny” and from various prior attempts on the part of United States to...

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