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Poli 101 - Canadian Government Full Notes

Political Science
Course Code
POLI 101
Allan Craigie

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In considering who we are, we must realize there is always an opposite (boy-girl, white-nonwhite). Our
identity helps us decide what is important and what is not, and helps us make sense of the world. It is not
always politically relevant or noticeable becomes noticeable when contrasted with another identity.
There is no universal human identity identities are formed based on experiences and there is no
meaningful identity as just a “human being. All groups are inherently exclusionary (although not on
purpose), as they all imply an opposite (i.e. Women excludes man). Geography is important in identity; its
di!cult to feel solidarity with someone who is geographically far away. Usually, those who are closer
overshadow those who are far away our identities focus on the local, day-to-day encounters, and the
nation. As membership in an identity gets bigger, the personal value of that identity tends to decrease.
Identity politics in Canada
Canada is seen as a multicultural society critics wonder if multiculturalism undermines the solidarity
necessary for large national projects (like redistribution). Known as the “progressives dilemma” to those
on the left, but this is a threat to all parties in the L-R axis that attempts large national projects.
Multiculturalism in Canada - Canada as an exception?
Our recognition of diversity and group rights goes back to the 1774 Québec Act, and we’ve always had
many significant political groups (Catholics, Protestants, Fr/Eng, Settlers/Aboriginals). Immigrants from
East and South Europe also came (instead of just those from North Europe), providing more diversity.
Canada also lacks an external colonial experience we never tried to colonize somewhere else. instead,
our immigration policy has (slowly) let non-white people in. We are also extremely isolated with the US as
our only neighbour no poor neighbors, so no need to worry about illegal immigrants.
Identities and geographies
As noted above, geography a"ects identity. Geography influences identity by:
Shapes how we communicate and identity with others may attach physical features to our identity
(mountains, oceans, forests, etc). Clearly divides “us” (cdns) from “them” (Americans).
Communication networks
All human interaction requires communication communications provides pathways in which common
identity markers and common political identities flow. Identities follow paths of hierarchical metropolises
(urban areas) and rural lands not from the centre outwards.
Communication is only possible through shared background assumptions and conventions. Language is
required for a shared identity, but not for communication (shared knowledge required).
Banality and background noise
Our national identity is reinforced by daily life (our currency, flag, weather maps Canada’s borders).
Argued that the internet weakens national identity but it may actually strengthen it (ads are matched to
your IP address info market ads according to where you live, enforcing your geography). The national
identity is also very strong and not likely to be surpassed forged over time from history, our identity
centers around the nation it is what most go to war for. No longer strong focus on religion.
September 2010 Jessica Giang

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Purpose of nations
As the state grows and begins to intervene more in society, its needs to legitimize its rule and gain
support to carry out large state a"airs through the idea of a nation (could be an ethnic group who was
already there, or the state may create an identity amongst the people). As it begins to require more things
from the people (their consent, money, obedience), the people bring about the creation of a democracy.
Political cleavages
politics about dividing resources “fairly” no agreed upon definition of “fair”
cleavages are the political fault lines which divide people within society (things that divide us)
many cleavages transcend political parties (no party to represent woman, labour, east, etc. There are
parties that contain a broad number of these people, but does not represent all the people. Parties cannot
say “I represent all these people” because all those people don’t vote for that party.)
not merely divided on a left (liberal) - right (conservative) axis
Major cleavages in Canada
federalism (regionalism and nationalism)
ethnicity (multiculturalism, and settler-Aboriginal)
Linked most closely with Québec
Seen as driving force behind Québécois nationalism
Fear of French language dying in North America
Debate between Québec and Cdn government as to who is responsible for protecting French language
Nationalism in Québec and regionalism in West major forces in Canadian politics (someone who grows
up in downtown Vancouver or a fishing village in nova scotia will have di"erent experiences and di"erent
ideas of the Canadian state)
Destroyed party system in 1993
Created two new forces Bloc Québécois and reform party of Canada
Based upon di"erent conceptions of role of federal government
Multiculturalism is a fact in Canadian life people from all over come to try to make a home
What it means is up for debate always many tensions between religions (how to accommodate certain
cultures? And accommodate their di"erent views?)
As an immigrant society, Canada needs to accommodate new immigrants, but do new immigrants need
to change?
Di"erent conceptions between settlers (both old and new) and Aboriginal Canadians
Once the key divide in Canadian politics
Roman Catholics historically supported Liberal party (reason is not known), and was the reason why
Liberals dominated in the 20th century
Religion and language used to be tied together
Current debates over religious accommodation especially with regard to Islam
September 2010 Jessica Giang

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Women and men vote di"erently
Women and men have di"erent job prospects (glass ceiling, there are more women graduating with
bachelors degrees but most higher up positions are still dominated by men, why?)
Woman still a small minority in Parliament
Women still make less money than male equivalents
Economically driving force (people who vote liberal/conservative do so because they think that party will
help their economical situation)
Often based around union movement
“people vote with their wallets”
Canada has not evolved into a left-right system parties compete at economic centre and avoid poles
Canadian politics about management
Cleavages and parties
Most cleavages cut across parties
Most parties in Canada are fairly non-ideological, i.e. The conservatives isn’t all that right, the liberals
kind of ignore the left-right axis (BQ and NDP are exceptions)
Attempt to be brokerage parties, try to propose policies that most people will find agreeable
English Canada! Canadian Multiculturalism!!!!!!27 Oct 2010
If Canada is multi/pluri-national, then it follows that other nation(s) exist besides Québec
Within Canada the dominant nation defines itself as “Canadian”
There is debate within academic literature as to what to call it “english Canada,” “rest of Canada” and
“Canada” (outside Québec) are used
It should be noted that Canada multinationalism exists both horizontally (between nations) and vertically
(within individuals)
The Staatsvolk
Within stable, multinational federations, there are dominant groups whose groups are so large that their
cultural norms become the background for state structure
In Canada this is Canadians of British descent (dominant group), and supplemented by immigration into
Canada outside of Québec
Initial face of Canada was very British neither French Canadians nor Aboriginals were represented in
the “state” for example money was only in English, then French and English bills, then bilingual
Building Canada
Canada goes back much further than 1867 only the CA was in 1867. Québec goes back to the
conquest, while for others it goes back to the English Civil war. In 1867 there was no sense of a national
identity like ours today they weren’t a nation, but a colony of the British empire.
Institutions of the state grew from the top down as Canada made ties to the Maritimes and the West,
this helped solidify the Cdn state within the borders of Canada and creating a Canadian nation. But this
process was mostly limited to English-speakers. Québec wasn’t engaging in economic and social
networking there were two separate nations being built, French and English.
Building Canada
Allowed for nation building projects (like railways connecting east to west)
September 2010 Jessica Giang
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