Chapter 3
The Anatomy of Conflict

We believe that the heart of the present crisis is to be discovered in the intersecting conflicts created by two kinds of cleavages in Canadian society and by the political agencies which express and mediate them. The first and more pressing cleavage is that old Canadian division between "the French" and "the English." We will consider the present configuration of this historic problem of Canadian duality in a moment. The second cleavage is that which divides the various regions of Canada and their populations from one another. Regionalism, like duality, also has an extended lineage in Canadian social, economic and political life, and we pursue this matter subsequently as well.

Both duality and regionalism, then, are deeply rooted in our history and are major elements in the social and economic foundation of Canada. The shape of these two structural forces of Canadian life has altered quite rapidly in the past quarter of a century as power has shifted within and between various groups and as their aspirations have changed. Canada is in no sense unique in experiencing such stresses; indeed, a survey of the international scene will reveal that "national unity" is a rather scarce commodity in the world community. However, it is the particular expression of these stresses in Canada that has brought us to our present pass, where the existing constitutional and political arrangements no longer adequately reflect or express the main social and economic forces which are at work in the country.

In our judgement, the first and foremost challenge facing the country is to create an environment in which duality might flourish; the second is to provide a fresher and fuller expression of the forces of regionalism in Canada's constitutional system and power structure. We wish to emphasize that it is in the context of the present crisis that we assign priority to these two, and we do so for a very simple reason. Each, if ignored or left unsatisfied, has the power to break the country, and each must accept the other if a new period of harmony is to be achieved.

As for other important contemporary issues or priorities, such as native rights and cultural pluralism, we believe we have a responsibility to suggest how they are affected by the interplay of duality and regionalism and how they might be recognized in a restructured federalism. These matters merit and must receive the most careful attention, but we have found it necessary to concentrate our efforts in order to ensure that we are striking through to the centre of the present crisis. We recognize, however, that at a time when conflicting issues such as native land claims and the development of northern energy resources to supply the demands of southern Canada converge as they do today, the future confronts us all with difficult choices and challenges. One of our concerns is that Canada will be in no position to respond creatively to such other matters as these if we are unable to relieve the main tensions arising from duality and regionalism.

But what, more precisely, do we mean when we speak of duality and regionalism?


To take French-English duality first, it could signify the thesis of the two founding peoples, the two-nations theory, the notion of the British North America Act as a pact between two peoples, the simple existence of two languages in Canada, or the distinction between Quebec society on the one hand and the rest of Canada on the other.

None of these, and no other, so far as we know, has received unanimous support. The native peoples (the country's real founders) understandably find the two-founding-peoples concept of duality offensive. English-speaking Canadians find it difficult to conceive of two nations and doubt whether there was a pact in 1867. Québécois believe that any attempt to consider French-speaking Quebec simply as a branch of French Canada belittles its role. Francophones outside Quebec and anglophones within Quebec are wary of any undue emphasis on the cleavage between Quebec and the rest of the country because it has the effect of submerging them within each majority society.

It is clear to us that duality is a multifaceted concept. The general understanding of it can be expected to alter as the society which it describes evolves, and the particular dimension which is emphasized will vary according to one's preoccupations, experience and situation in the country.

Our use of the concept of duality in this report will reflect this variety, and the reader will observe that we find several different dimensions of it worthy of consideration. The historic relationship between French and English-speaking peoples in the upper half of North America has been problematic for centuries, and the conflicts between the two have been fed from many sources and sustained in many areas of life: in religious practices, cultural outlook, at work, in school, in patterns of settlement, in the exercise of political power, and in many other ways as well.

In addition, the question of the relationship between French-speaking and English-speaking Canadians takes quite different forms in different parts of the country, depending on such things as the relative size and distribution of the two communities in a given area, the economic relationships that prevail between the two, and their relative political power and aspirations. Because of these and other factors, the case of the English-speaking minority ,-in Quebec, for example, is radically different from that of the Franco-Ontarians; and again for similar reasons-the position and prospects of the French-Canadian minorities in the western provinces are not only distinguishable from one another, but also very different from the position and prospects of the French-speaking communities of Ontario.

New Brunswick is a special case, for nowhere else are the two sides of the duality more evenly balanced. With its French-speaking Acadian community constituting a third of the population, New Brunswick in some ways is a microcosm of Canada as a whole, and it is perhaps significant that it is the only province that has adopted language legislation similar to that of the federal government. With its distinctive history of duality, New Brunswick faces particular problems and opportunities in establishing a just relationship between the province's two linguistic communities.

Our report thus seeks to reflect the complex and multifaceted character of duality, but the reader will also find that it is shaped by a certain emphasis and preoccupation which we wish to make clear at this point. The dominant interpretation of duality which commends itself to the Task Force, and which we think must receive the attention of the country as a whole, is that which bears most directly on the crisis as it manifests itself today. While we freely acknowledge that duality is many-sided, we would nevertheless insist that to confront the heart of the issue today is to address one main question, namely, the status of Quebec and its people in the Canada of tomorrow. While the origins of the crisis are many, its resolution must necessarily be primarily political and constitutional in nature, and aimed at securing if possible a satisfactory position for Quebec and its people within Canada as a whole.

Our understanding of duality is shaped by this perception, and our emphasis in the balance of this report will be on Quebec's political and constitutional position and the relationship which in our judgement should prevail between the Québécois and other Canadians. We repeat that this will not be an exclusive preoccupation which dismisses or denies other dimensions of duality, such as the cultural and the economic, but rather an emphasis and an orientation.


We contend, therefore, that the essential condition in recognizing duality within Canada at the present time is to come to terms with modern Quebec. Quebec will continue to be the pillar of the French fact in all of North America; it will perform this function inside the Canadian federal system or outside it. So the challenge is not to try to confer on Quebec a role that it has in any case played for centuries, but to demonstrate that it is a role which can be played more effectively within a restructured federal system which is expressly cognizant of Quebec's distinctiveness and its sources.

One can readily identify several factors which have led to the emergence of a distinct society in modern Quebec. We have identified six: history, language, law, common origins, feelings and politics-which, together with others, have led to the development of a distinct society in modern Quebec.

The first, then, is history-the legacy of over three hundred years of the continuous development of a people. During much of this period, but particularly after Confederation, it was possible to speak of a single French-Canadian community which extended to many parts of what is now Canada and to which Quebec contributed a substantial portion of the leadership and the vision to sustain it. French Canada, like English Canada, was knit together from distinct regional societies which, over time, came to think of themselves, for at least some purposes, as one. However, the changes in Canadian social structure since the Second World War have drastically weakened the organic links between these communities. What now is emerging from the old French Canada is a strong and vital Quebec, and many more vulnerable smaller and weaker French-Canadian communities in other provinces, each of which has been forced by circumstances and a constant threat of assimilation to set its own course independently of, and sometimes in opposition to, developments within Quebec. This process, rooted in the history of Canada generally, would by itself designate Quebec as the most viable and important locus of the French culture in North America; yet there are other, equally important, factors.

The second important factor is language. Quebec is home to over 85 per cent of all citizens who speak French, and 81 per cent of Quebec's population is French-speaking. Current demographic data for Canada as a whole reveal a growing linguistic territorial concentration which is rendering Quebec increasingly French and the rest of the country, excluding New Brunswick, increasingly English.

A third factor is Canada's legal duality. Quebec was authorized by the Quebec Act of 1774 to retain its French civil laws. One year before Confederation, the civil laws were codified along the lines of the Code Napoléon. Amended from time to time since then, the civil code is the basis of Quebec's private law while the other provinces have lived under the English common law tradition, thus producing two distinct legal systems.

A fourth factor contributing to Quebec's unique character is the distinctive ethnic group or people which French Canadians form. The majority of these are persons whose families came to North America several centuries ago. While the more recent arrivals from France have been somewhat less likely to settle in Quebec, a majority still does so. This means that in addition to the linguistic distinctiveness of the province may be added the fact that the ethnic origins of its majority are shared. Quebec is simply not a multicultural society in the same sense as many other parts of Canada. Although it has become more ethnically diverse in the last few decades, particularly in the Montreal area, Quebec is and will remain predominantly French in language and in ethnicity; it is unique in Canada on both of these counts.

There remain two other factors which must be added. The legacy of history, a shared language and common origins are all important social facts in their own right, but they say nothing about the feelings of Québécois, a fifth factor which marks Quebec off from the other provinces. The shared desires, aspirations and even the fears of the collectivity provide perhaps the most compelling evidence in support of Quebec's cultural distinctiveness.

For the longest part of Quebec's history one theme dominated the cultural life of the collectivity. That theme was survivance, or sheer survival. This overriding concern for the maintenance of the way of life of a people coloured the relationship between Quebecers and their compatriots, and it continues to do so. Yet only an insensitive observer of the life of the province could fail to note a substantial shift in approach in which that collectivity's concern for survival is now expressed by the thoroughly contemporary and dynamic pursuit of its own development, or what has been often described as épanouissement (literally, "blooming," "blossoming").

Psychologically, the transition from survivance to épanouissement has been accompanied by a remarkable alteration in Quebecers' attitudes toward themselves. This may be described as the shift in self-perception of French-speaking Quebecers from a Canadian minority only grudgingly accepted in many parts of Canada to a Québécois majority, increasingly confident and determined to secure its future.

This transformation is reflected in the very vocabulary that Quebecers have used to describe themselves. Originally, the French-speaking people of Quebec called themselves Canadiens and referred to the English-speaking people as les Anglais. In the middle and late nineteenth century, they began calling themselves Canadiens frangais to distinguish themselves from English-speaking Canadians. In recent years, however, more and more have adopted the name and identity of Québécois, underlining this sense of themselves as a majority, as a people.

Parallel to this development, French Canadians elsewhere in Canada increasingly have come to see themselves as a part of their provincial communities rather than as members of a comprehensive French Canadian society. They describe themselves as Franco-Ontariens, Franco-Manitobains, Fransaskois, and collectively as les francophones hors Québec, outside of Quebec.

These changes suggest the sixth and final factor contributing to the distinctiveness of the province of Quebec - namely, the changing meaning of politics to a society in transition. The psychological passage from minority to majority has been marked by the wholesale appropriation of the state for this cultural struggle. The last several decades have produced leaders in Quebec, as elsewhere, who are prepared to employ the resources of the provincial state to achieve collective goals and to promote rapid social and economic development.

History, language, law, ethnicity, feelings and politics render Quebec at once a society, a province and the stronghold of the French-Canadian people. Taken together, these factors produce in the Québécois a vision of Quebec as the living heart of the French presence in North America; collectively they are as strong or as weak as Quebec is: no more, no less. It is this reality with which other Canadians and the Canadian federal system must come to terms. For the people of Quebec, the question that remains to be answered is whether they can better serve their future within Canada and its federal system or whether they would do better standing on their own.


What of regionalism, which we have identified as the second line of cleavage in Canadian society which needs attention in the present crisis? Two observations come immediately to mind.

First, one cannot begin to consider regionalism as a force in Canadian life without recognizing the interrelationships which exist between it and the concept of duality. Regionalism and duality are not isolated phenomena. They are ways of describing the same realities from different perspectives. They interpenetrate and influence each other to such a degree that duality can be regarded, in a sense, as a regional phenomenon, while, as we have seen, many of the regions incorporate elements of duality.

Second, very little investigation is required to reveal that, as in the case of duality, there is a multiplicity of meanings and associations that can be attached to the notion of regionalism in Canada.

For a start, most Québécois we observed, are inclined not to see regionalism as a very significant factor in Canadian life; they view Canada essentially in terms of the relations between French and English-speaking Canadians or between Quebec and the rest of Canada. As a result of this dualistic outlook, they are sometimes tempted to think of English-speaking Canada as one monolithic entity.

However, English-speaking Canada is a much less monolithic and homogeneous society, and a much more diverse and complex one, than the Québécois often assume it to be. This complexity needs to be taken into account in the analysis of Canadian problems and in the search for solutions, because it determines the way in which English-speaking Canadians look at their country and in which they react to stresses like those of the present.

Indeed, the regional nature of English-speaking Canada complicates its perception of French-speaking Canada, just as the comparatively homogeneous and concentrated character of Quebec society complicates its perception of the rest of the country. Because many English-speaking Canadians think of their country as a cultural and geographic mosaic, they tend to regard French-speaking Canadians as members of one of the many minority groups that make up the Canadian mosaic. They do not spontaneously think of their country in a dualistic way, though some have begun to do so over the course of the last decade or so.

It is not an easy matter, then, to settle on a single notion of regionalism in Canada or one definition of a region. Some economists have identified the thirteen major urban systems of Canada as the most plausible economic regions of the country. A similar perspective treats regionalism as an intra-provincial phenomenon and distinguishes between the populous, industrialized regions of a province (for example, British Columbia's lower mainland, southwestern Ontario or Montreal Island) and those other parts of the province which are economically and socially distinct.

The regions of Canada can also be seen as four or five units composed of various combinations of the following: the Atlantic region, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies and British Columbia (or sometimes the West and the North). These ways of looking at the country are sometimes useful in economic analysis and at the federal level when for certain purposes of administration the provincial boundaries are less important.

The Task Force, like many other national bodies, was appointed on a regional (as well as on a dual) basis, and we will employ the four or five-region approach from time to time in our report. If we do not do so more often, it is because this approach has two drawbacks. First, the interests of the individual provinces within these regions are not always identical: those of Newfoundland, for example, are distinct from those of New Brunswick, just as those of Manitoba are more similar in some ways to those of the central provinces than to Alberta.

In the second place, regional communities require an institutional framework if they are to become viable units which can express themselves and organize their collective life in an effective manner. For that reason, it seems to us that the provinces and the northern territories are the basic building blocks of Canadian society and the logical units on which to focus a discussion of Canadian regionalism, even though they may not always be the most "natural" regions from an economic or other point of view. They are, nevertheless, the political frameworks through which the various regional communities express and will continue to express themselves. We see no trends which allow us to believe that the people of any Canadian province are ready to abandon their traditional provincial units in favour of larger regional structures, even though in some cases, and especially in the Maritimes, groups of provinces are prepared to cooperate to an increasing extent in common endeavours for the common good.

In this report, then, we will use the concept of regionalism in more than one way. Sometimes we will use it to mean economic and geographic regions transcending provincial boundaries. But more often we will use it to designate the provinces themselves. The provincial political institutions are the primary frameworks through which regional populations can organize and express themselves, and their existence serves in turn to develop the social networks and interests based on them, thus reinforcing the provincial focus of regionalism.

Some people, we have noticed, appear to regard regionalism as something apart from provinces and provincial societies, and would prefer that we use the term provincialism to describe what we have primarily in mind. We have chosen not to follow this advice. We do not see that regionalism and provincialism are or can be mutually exclusive, even if the "fit" is not perfect in every case; Ontario, in a five-region Canada, for example, is both a region and a province, even if Prince Edward Island is not. Given the fluid character of regionalism, there are legitimate grounds for different choices, and for the purposes of the Task Force we think ours is the most appropriate.

Our conclusion, then, with respect to regionalism parallels our judgement about duality in two ways. First, we accept both of them as basic social and political realities, but we also recognize the legitimate claims of both and the potential they offer to enrich and diversify Canadian life. In other words we accept their existence; we also recognize their value. Second, just as we contend that, for a complex variety of reasons, duality must today be approached primarily (although not exclusively) through the medium of Quebec's relations with the rest of Canada, we also believe that regionalism in Canadian life is expressed primarily (although, again, not exclusively) within the framework of the provinces, and we regard the provincial and territorial governments as critical agents in articulating the concerns and aspirations of these regional communities.

Regionalism in English-speaking Canada

Because of the concentration in the following pages on the regional and cultural diversity of English-speaking Canada, we sense that it would be possible for us to appear to downplay consideration of some commitments which are shared by the vast majority of English-speaking Canadians. So that there is no doubt as to the views of the Task Force on these common commitments, we shall give them our full attention here.

We believe that central to an understanding of English-speaking Canadians is the fact that they share elements of what could be called a common "political culture." That is, most English-speaking Canadians are strongly committed to the maintenance of a united country from sea to sea, to the political institutions and traditions which sustain a parliamentary form of democratic government, and to a federal system. There are quite naturally significant variations of opinion on each of these items, but we nevertheless observed a widely shared commitment to them among the great majority of English-speaking Canadians.

We would not want to leave our readers with the impression that these commitments are to be found uniquely among English-speaking Canadians; many French-speaking Canadians are as strongly committed to a united Canada, federalism and parliamentary government as long as there are reforms. Nevertheless, it is important to take into account the relative unanimity with which support for the basic aspects of our federation, though not its current operation, is voiced throughout English Canada.

Despite these shared commitments, and the network of political, economic and cultural institutions which link and bind together English-speaking Canadians in all parts of the country, the current crisis of Canadian unity has not had the effect of eliciting from anglophones throughout Canada a single, unified response. The Task Force is of the view that this lack of unanimity of opinion among English-speaking Canadians on the present crisis and on many other matters is quite natural.

We would identify five principal sources of diversity in English-speaking Canada: geography, history, economics, ethnicity and federalism itself.

To take geography first, the size and physical character of what is now Canada has always been a major force acting upon the peoples inhabiting this part of the world. It is an old cliché to say that Canada was knit together in defiance of geography - a view that, as some writers have pointed out, must be qualified by the unifying role of our waterways-but however it is qualified, the fact remains that Canadian unity has always had to struggle against physical barriers which divide its territory into at least five distinct geographical areas, and subdivide these into many more.

The second source of diversity, history, supplements the first. For much of our past, the ties between the regions have been very tenuous, if they existed at all. Geography and history combined to produce patterns of settlement which have played a continuing role in shaping the regional character of the country. If one studies the so-called "Vinland Map," one of the earliest European maps to show the coastline of northeastern North America, one is struck by the fact that "Vinland" appears as the last of a string of islands extending westward from northern Europe. This striking visual image expresses what is a fundamental reality for much of early Canadian history: the various regions of what is now one country were settled and developed by Europeans rather as "Islands" unto themselves, largely unrelated to their neighbours, but linked by the sea to the mother countries and to other parts of the world. Before Confederation, the regions of present-day Canada were rather like a bunch of balloons, unattached to each other but held, by separate strings, in one hand.

Among its other accomplishments, Confederation associated the English-speaking people of four provinces in a single state, and provided a set of indigenous institutions having a claim on their loyalties larger than the colony or province. Loyalties to the province, which are particularly marked throughout Canada, antedate loyalty to the federation for English Canadians just as they do for French Canadians. Evidence that these pre-existing loyalties were never to be lightly discarded by English-speaking Canadians is plentiful in our history, as is suggested by the fact that the original Confederation agreements hardly received what one might call "massive" public support. There are many residents of the Maritime provinces today who preserve a good deal of skepticism about whether the political union called Canada has evolved in quite the way their representatives at the Charlottetown, Quebec and London conferences had intended.

To many foreign observers, the fact that Confederation is widely evaluated from the particular point of view of how given provinces have fared over the years is a remarkable feature of Canadian life. In other countries, cleavages such as social class, religion, race or creed have been of decisive importance to the collective or political lives of their citizens. In Canada, how much the people of any given province or region have participated in the benefits of the federation, or shared in its costs, has been at the forefront of our politics. And, we believe, this historically based reality is equally prevalent today. For many, perhaps most, English-speaking Canadians, a key element in how they evaluate their federation lies in the treatment it accords, or is felt to accord, their province, its natural resources, its industries, its population, and their particular priorities.

As these words suggest, a third source of regionalism, resulting from both history and geography, is economics. Because of the physical distinctions and distances between its various regions, the country has developed a somewhat unbalanced economic structure. Because the provinces are unequally endowed with natural resources and population, because basic industries vary greatly from one region to another, because geography grants them unequal access to both domestic and foreign markets, the level and character of economic development is very uneven across the country. This unequal distribution of economic well-being has traditionally been an important factor contributing to regional discontent and continues to weaken Canadian unity today.

A fourth source of the cultural and regional diversity of English-speaking Canada is ethnicity. The dual nature of our population was of course demonstrated in our earliest census. However, even if the "English" half of the duality were today still comprised almost exclusively of those of British origin, as it was in 1871, cultural differences even within it would nevertheless be quite pronounced. For one thing, British origin groups together the Irish, English, Scots and Welsh-peoples who historically have only rarely been found in complete agreement. For another, the vast expanse of Canadian territory, the fragmented nature of our economy, the unequal endowment of the provinces, and even such minor factors as variation in climate would soon assert themselves by producing, as such factors produce in every large country, tangible differences in the pace of everyday life, in occupation and, eventually, in identity.

Of course, the facts of the matter are that English-speaking Canada has become much more diverse in terms of ethnicity. Canadians of ethnic origins other than French or British have been part of the country virtually since its creation. They have settled vast parts of its territory, have contributed to its development, and continue to blend their efforts with one another and with all other Canadians to produce better lives for themselves and their children. In cultural terms, the importance of this influx has been enormous.

In coming to Canada, members of the other ethnic groups were not able, of course, to transport their complete culture from their native lands. They brought instead habits, practices, languages, traditions and outlooks, many of which were not common to the majority of those they encountered in Canada. In these cultural heritages, incomplete as they necessarily were, arriving immigrants and their offspring found and find a measure of identity and, very frequently, a source of pride. They also found in Canada a country which was not expressly dedicated to developing a common culture into which they were called upon to fit. Rather, they found a country whose very existence was predicated on the idea that it was not necessary to have a single language and culture to have a united people.

Wherever and whenever they arrived, immigrants from around the world have conducted their lives in Canada as part of a regionally diverse society. In some cases, they were able to influence the development of a city or province virtually from the start. In others, they were able to contribute perhaps less basically to their immediate surroundings. All of those who came have contributed something to Canada, and most of these contributions enlivened the cultural atmosphere of English-Canadian towns and cities, and continue to do so. This has been anything but an evenly distributed process, and it has meant more to some regions than others. But the result is that "English" Canada is composed of many communities and groups who have in common principally the fact that they now share a language and a commitment to Canada.

In summary, ethnicity may not be the decisive factor that guaranteed the cultural diversity of English Canada, but it has been a major factor in reinforcing this diversity. It has interacted with regionalism in several ways, in different times and places, with the result that the two factors are so fused in their effect that they may never be fully disassembled.

We turn now to the fifth factor which produces the cultural diversity of English Canada - federalism itself. While Canada may be a union of peoples or nationalities, it is a federation of provinces. From the start, territory was seen to be the natural basis of division for purposes of creating a wider political union. We have already mentioned some historical reasons for this choice. We now wish to discuss the consequences.

The British North America Act of 1867 grants, or has been interpreted to grant, quite substantial powers to the provincial governments of Canada. They are responsible at the present time for many of the most basic and costly services governments anywhere are called upon to deliver to citizens: health care, social services and education, to name a few. In giving provinces these weighty responsibilities, the BNA Act served to reinforce Canadian regionalism by permitting the development of provincial political institutions of sufficient size, authority and importance to undertake, in addition to the provision of certain services, a more general role of expressing regional views without regard to jurisdiction. Aggressive, well-staffed provincial governments have come, in other words, to represent the people of the provinces they serve in a number of ways, and not solely in the ways set out as provincial responsibilities in our constitution.

This is certainly the case in Quebec. The provincial government there has become the main instrument of Québécois aspirations. In English-speaking Canada, several provinces have taken similar, if less dramatic, initiatives to support and encourage what amounts to little less than the development of provincial societies. Some observers believe that strong provincial governments have been at the forefront of this process, have actually created the demand for increased provincial government activity. Others believe that the provincial governments of English Canada have been responding to deeply felt desires of their citizens for government that is close to the people.

Whatever the exact sequence (and it may vary in different provinces), the fact remains that the formal institutions of Canadian federalism have been a significant factor supporting the development of a regionally diverse English-Canadian society. This is a process which has come to fruition only in the last few decades. The provincial governments of many provinces in English-speaking Canada join the government of Quebec in calling the central government to account for its interventions in what they consider their own spheres of jurisdiction and for the more general treatment of the people of their province by federal authorities.

These five factors-geography, history, economics, ethnicity, and the formal institutions of Canadian federalism-have, then, helped to create and sustain a vigorous regionalism in English-Canadian life, and they will no doubt continue to do so in the future.


In our judgement, these are the main structural forces working in Canada to produce the crisis we are currently experiencing. By way of conclusion, let us consider briefly the position of the Parti Québécois from this perspective.

One may interpret the sovereignty-association option as the Parti Québécois' answer to the historic question of Canadian duality. At first glance, its central thrust is to transform and concentrate the linguistic, sociological, economic and cultural dimensions into a political and constitutional relationship-the relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada.

However, what initially appears to be a response to the question of duality ends up by being a refusal to continue to ask and answer the question at all. The sovereignty of Quebec, if it came about as planned by the Parti Québécois, creates two unities, two states which probably would not feel themselves obliged to recognize fully the continuing presence of duality within their frontiers. As in all cases of this kind, there would be minorities on either side, English-speaking people in Quebec and francophones in the rest of Canada, but they would undoubtedly find it difficult to ensure that duality would continue to be a central dynamic of either state. The single exception would be the province of New Brunswick which will be required to cope with duality by virtue of sheer demography, whatever happens constitutionally to Canada.

In addition to passing ultimately beyond duality, sovereignty-association does something else: it challenges regionalism-or seems to. What péquistes have in mind, so far as one can tell, is some kind of one-to-one association between Quebec and the rest of Canada. That this is a possible objective seems to be assumed, rather than demonstrated. But what is the "other" to which Quebec would relate? It is not unified, but multiple and various; yet the logic of the sovereignty-association option presses hard on regionalism to deny itself for the sake of a duality which is little more than the Cheshire cat's smile. This, on the face of it, does not strike most Canadians outside of Quebec, nor many inside Quebec, as a particularly seductive invitation. Better the freedom of action of genuine independence than a sovereignty that is not quite a sovereignty and an association whose ambiguous entanglements could impede movement for the sake of a number of obscure and uncertain advantages.

But what do those who espouse a united Canada have to offer by way of a better response? If it is little more than the opposite of sovereignty-association, that is to say, a regionalism which submerges duality, or a pan-Canadian nationalism that denies both, then it will not serve.

Last HTML revision: 10 May, 1996

William F. Maton