Generations of intellectuals have debated Canada’s national question. Rather than join the debate, Multicultural Nationalism challenges its logic. The national question is self-defeating: attempts to constitute a Canadian political community generate polarizing and depoliticizing deliberations. Gerald Kernerman engages with leading political theorists and analyzes policy, constitutional, and media documents in order to examine proposals for minority rights, multicultural citizenship, asymmetrical federalism, multinationalism, and group-based representation. Even as other countries consider pursuing similar paths, Kernerman cautions against using Canada as a model since these proposals are themselves manifestations of nationalist contestation.
About the author
- Winner, Award for Cover Design, American Association of University Presses
Gerald Kernerman is assistant professor of political science at York University and co-editor, with Philip Resnick, of Insiders & Outsiders: Alan Cairns and the Reshaping of Canadian Citizenship.
Kernerman's book is a good survey of the identity-citizenship-nationalism debates in Canada. Pithy summaries of the major theories and concepts informing the debates make this a useful introduction to the issues involved. The issues he addresses – of governing difference, of regulating divisiveness, of "creating" unity – are now central to the political cultures of many nations. As a reviewer from India, where the "unity in diversity" paradigm has been our governing political slogan even during the era of minoritarian, linguistic, and ethnic nationalisms and fragmentation, I appreciate Kernerman's attempts to chart a way between difference and unity, and between diversity and national integration.
Canadian Ethnic Studies, vol. XXXVIII, no. 1
What this analysis reveals is that when these debates become entangled with the question of Canadian unity, which they invariably have been, they become constrained by dichotomous thinking, produce political paralysis, and generate exclusion ... Of particular interest to constitutional and administration lawyers will be the discussion surrounding the constitutional deliberations at Meech Lake and Charlottetown, as well as the treatment of philosophical and political nature of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Saskatchewan Law Review, 2006, vol. 69