Federalism and the French Canadians

Trudeau, Pierre Elliott
Publisher:  MacMillan, Canada
Year Published:  1968
Pages:  212pp   Price:  $2.50   Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6287

An essay that discusses nationalism and the Quebec seperatist movement.

In this collection of 9 essays written in the 1960s, Trudeau proposes that federalism is the most ideal solution for reconciling the interests of French Canadians with the rest of Canada. He argues that an independent Quebec would not further French Canadian objectives and would be undemocratic.

Trudeau believed that separation would harm Quebec's socio-economic development. In today's modern economy that depends on openness, an inward-looking Quebec would result in a lower standard of living for the working class. Consequently, he criticizes separatists as being reactionary members of the ruling class, while hiding behind revolutionary Marxist-Leninist rhetoric.

Additionally, Trudeau suggests that separation would not protect French culture. While acknowledging that linguistic equality had not been attained in the federal civil service, he also believes that French is too deeply embedded to disappear altogether. The real importance is not the survival but the progress of French culture, which can only occur through a cultural exchange possible under federalism, not isolationism.

Trudeau also believes nationalism is not a legitimate basis for a state. Nationalist states are undemocratic because they are "by nature intolerant, discriminatory and totalitarian," due the state's prejudices based on ethnic origin. However, just as nationalism cannot be the basis of an independent Quebec, Trudeau asserts that Canada must maintain federalism not through nationalism, but with reason.

In sum, Trudeau believes a federal system could help Canada become a "truly pluralistic and polyethnic society" that would surpass the American melting pot as an example for newly-independent multi-ethnic states.

The collection is divided into 2 parts. Part 1 addresses primarily constitutional issues, its first essay providing a self-contained argument against separatism. Part 2's essays further flesh out the initial essay's concepts, as well as introduce some new topics, such as the historic lack of democratic culture in French Canadians.

[Abstract by Jared Ong]

Table of Contents:

Prface to the French edition

Quebec and the Constitutional Problem
A Constitutional Declaration of Rights

De libro, tributo…et quibusdam aliis
Federal Grants to Universities
Some Obstacles to Democracy in Quebec
The Practice and Theory of Federalism
New Treason of the Intellectuals
Federalism, Nationalism and Reason
Separatist Counter-Revolutionaries

Subject Headings

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