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[Misconceiving Canada: the struggle for national unity]

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This book makes a statement that many people may have wanted to suggest before now, but have felt constrained from presenting. McRoberts challenges the hegemony of Pierre Trudeau's liberal vision of a centralized federalism that is bound together by the values of a fiercely individualistic liberalism and which displaced the historical vision of "dualism" that formerly characterized the political and cultural relationship between Quebec and the "rest of Canada." The theoretical parameters of Trudeau liberalism often have been regarded as based upon unassailable assumptions, if not seen as outright sacred cows. But the current, and ongoing, crisis of Canadian unity warrants the critical examination that this book provides. The rejection of the traditional concept of dualism to define Canadian identity has been reexamined by McRoberts in reaction to the perceived failures of the strategies of federal bilingualism, multiculturalism, and relatively rigid notions of egalitarianism that Trudeau's vision of Canadian liberalism embraced, especially through the popular device of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

McRoberts' thesis contends that the Trudeau strategy for achieving national unity by promoting ethnic pluralism, a unified federal program of English and French language protections throughout Canada, and the protection of individual civil rights and liberties has failed. It has done so because it deliberately attempted to suppress, rather than accommodate, the very real and enduring presence of the forces of nationalism and regional identity within Canada. Furthermore, the popularity of the civil libertarian tradition that is represented by the Charter has made a truly critical public appreciation of this issue difficult to achieve, so the crises of the renewal of the Quebec separatist movement, the return of the Parti Quebecois, the rise of the Bloc Quebecois, and the near-success of the most recent Quebec referendum are interpreted readily as having been caused by a failure to...