In this startlingly original vision of Canada, renowned thinker John Ralston Saul argues that Canada is a Métis nation, heavily influenced and shaped by Aboriginal ideas: Egalitarianism, a proper balance between individual and group, and a penchant for negotiation over violence are all Aboriginal values that Canada absorbed. An obstacle to our progress, Saul argues, is that Canada has an increasingly ineffective elite, a colonial non-intellectual business elite that doesn't believe in Canada. It is critical that we recognize these aspects of the country in order to rethink its future.
John Ralston Saul is Canada’s leading public intellectual. Declared a “prophet” by Time magazine, Saul has received many awards and prizes, including Chile’s Pablo Neruda Medal. He is president of PEN International, an organization dedicated to freedom of expression. He has published fourteen works, which have been translated into twenty-five languages in thirty-six countries, the most recent of which is The Comeback, an examination of the remarkable return to power of Aboriginal people in Canada. Saul lives in Toronto.
"A plain but telling litmus test of the impact of a new book is whether you find yourself acting by it. Already, having read A Fair Country: Telling Truths About Canada, John Ralston Saul's argument for Canada as an aboriginal-minded society, I find myself talking more easily about the colonial encumbrance and the influence of first nations on our national consciousness. A Fair Country may be wishful thinking; it plays conjurer's tricks with history and, quite deliberately, creates new founding myths. But it is also a brilliant and timely argument about Canada's complex nature and our country's best future course." - The Globe and Mail
"What a relief it is to read something so observant about Canada. Here we are in the throes of an election, when ideas about our history and identity should matter enormously, but you will find no such acknowledgment in the discourse of our politicians. They would do well to read this book. They would learn, for instance, that the contempt our governing lot has shown toward the previous idea Canadians had of the country - as a fair, multicultural and peacekeeping one - even as they demonstrate a craven deference toward the military and economic imperatives of the United States, is a symptom of minds still, in effect, colonized." - The Globe and Mail
"Saul's "truths about Canada" include a damning exposition of our postcolonial shackles, a detailed historical case for the reversion of our national credo to "peace, welfare and good government," and a condemnation of Canadian business as mediocre, uninspired and wanting. All of these arguments are derived from the core idea of A Fair Country, which is that Canada is a polity fashioned in neither the European nor the American mould. Consequently, Saul argues, we should not be imagining ourselves in the tradition of either, but instead recognize the country's distinct nature, born of this land, and the integration, not just interaction, of settler and aboriginal life." - The Globe and Mail
"…the inversion of attitudes Saul is attempting through his reconfiguring of history is a welcome, necessary step toward Canada's better realization. It is high time that some of our dominant founding myths - such as Canadians being, ever since the days of the United Empire Loyalists, the (cowardly) progeny of people in flight - were revised, and this cannot be done without the telling of a story that, at first listening, shocks. Joseph Boyden, one of the few novelists Saul cites, did this with Three Day Road, in which Cree snipers fight alongside other Canadians at Ypres. For any who have read that extraordinary book, it is subsequently impossible to consider either founding story - of the nation formed through Canadians' discovery of each other in the trenches, or of our aboriginal pedigree - in isolation. After Boyden, the two were inextricably intertwined." - The Globe and Mail
"we are a Métis nation, certainly, and it has never been so eloquently said." - The Globe and Mail
"A Fair Country has the potential to change the way Canadians see themselves forever." - Winnipeg Free Press