May 13, 2010 Lecture
The first is the “fragment” theory, espoused by US political scientist Louis Hartz and
Canadian political scientist Gad Horowitz (Dyck, p. 250). Summarized as follow:
While the original waves of English-speaking settlers from Britain in the 17 and 18 th
centuries to North America brought with them the liberal values of liberalism and
equality, they emigrated in an era when pre-modern conservative or feudalistic
values and ideas were still very influential (if no longer totally dominant).
The American Rev. was led by colonists espousing liberal values. The colonists who
insisted on remaining loyal to the British Crown were compelled to flee the new
country of the US after their side lost in the Revolutionary War.
These “Loyalists” formed Canada in a conscious rejection (Hartz & Horowitz argue)
of American liberalism, bringing with them conservative or tory values which were
no longer acceptable in the US, a country created in the name of liberal values.
Now that tory values had been formally ejected from the US, that country evolved
into an overwhelmingly liberal society (a liberal ‘fragment’), where non-liberal
values are generally held to be suspect – “un-American.”
Where’s the Canadian equivalent?
In contrast, the Loyalists who founded English Canada were liberals, but “tinged”
with a “tory touch.” This conscious rejection of American society, and awareness of
national differences, was reinforced by the War of 1812 when Upper Canada
successfully defeated an American invasion.
Battle of Queenston Heights, 13 Oc. 1812. Which Canada won, fair and square. th
Canada th a “two fragment” society because of the presence of Quebec. In the 17
and 18 centuries, New France was founded and populated by immigrants who
brought with them the feudalistic political ideas of Catholic and royalist France. In
New France the Catholic Church was the most important cultural as well as religious
The fragment theory argues that Quebec’s political culture “congealed” at the point
of conquest in 1759. In 1759, the Conquest cut this fragment off from France. After
the Conquest, further emigration from France practically disappeared.
So New France (now Quebec) did not continue to evolve politically and culturally the
way France continued to. For example, the French Rev of 1780 abolishing feudalistic
structures had no counterpart or equivalent event in Quebec.
Consequently, New France was established as a “feudal fragment.” Feudalism is
characterized by values such as hierarchy, respect for established authority, clearly
demarcated social classes, and an emphasis on the collective good over the
Formative Event Theory
The second highly influential theory is the “formative event” theory espoused by US
political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset (Dyck, pp. 250~251). He argues that the
events ppl experience
In Quebec, the Conquest is still popularly seen as a great catastrophe.
Other subsequent “formative” events include the War of 1812 for English Canada,
and the failed liberal Rebellion of 1837 in Quebec.
But what does it all mean?
The Loyalists who founded English Canada may indeed have been liberals, but
according to Horowitz, liberals “tinged” with a “tory touch”. The arguemtn is that
the Loyalists’ liberalism was diluted by conservative ideas such as deference
towards established authority The Canadian national political culture compared to the American:
– Balance btw/ US individualism (free enterprise, personal liberty, mistrust of
gov’t, equality of opportunity not results) vs. Canadian collectivism (big gov’t,
higher taxation, more generous social programs)
– US model of assimilation (melting pot, public expressions of patriotism) vs.
Canadian tolerance of diversity, multicultural model, Aboriginal recognition,
– US emphasis on individual vs. Canadian tolerance of government authority &
restrictions on individual behavior
– US inequality Vs. Canadian government-driven egalitarianism
– US more religious vs. Canadian secularism & tolerance
– US nationalistic pride vs. Canadian caution, diffidence, inferiority complex,
Leonard Cohen’s “Beautiful Losers” (Dyck, p.262)
According to Hartz-Horowitz, the survival of tory values in Canada explains several
of our distinctive cultural traits such as deference to authority and preference for
In Canada, support for big gov’t intervention in the market economy is an
acceptable value, across the political spectrum. There is no significant libertarian
streak in the Canadian political culture
Hartz-Horowitz also argue that the historical existence of tory values in our political
culture is a key background factor making possible one of the most distinctive
differences btw/ the Canadian and American political systems.
Can you guess what it is?
– Socialist Party (NDP)
Historically, parliamentary socialism is an important characteristic of the Canadian
political tradition, dating back to the 1930s. The NDP (formed in 1961) regularly
Conservatism and socialism have a lot in common, such as: the willingness to
recognize society is divided into social classes (liberals on the other hand emphasize the individual as the basic unit in society) and acceptance of
government activism in the name of the collective good.
Tories believe that society’s elites have an obligation to help out society’s l