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Interpreting Quebec’s Exile Within the Federation

Selected Political Essays


Guy Laforest

This book combines the approaches of political theory and of intellectual history to provide a lucid account of Québec’s contemporary situation within the Canadian federation.
Guy Laforest considers that the province of Québec, and its inhabitants, are exiled within Canada. They are not fully integrated, politically and constitutionally, nor are they leaving the federation, for now and for the foreseeable future. They are in between these two predicaments. Laforest provides insights into the current workings of the Canadian federation, and some of its key figures of the past fifty years, such as Pierre Elliott Trudeau, René Lévesque, Stephen Harper and Claude Ryan.
The book also offers thought-provoking studies of thinkers and intellectuals such as James Tully, Michel Seymour and André Burelle. Laforest revisits some key historical documents and events, such as the Durham Report and the 1867 and 1982 constitutional documents. He offers political and constitutional proposals that could contribute to help Québec moving beyond the current predicament of internal exile.
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Introduction: Interpreting Québec’s Exile within the Federation: Selected Political Essays, by Guy Laforest with the collaboration of Oscar Mejia Mesa


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Interpreting Québec’s Exile Within the Federation

Selected Political Essays

I often repeat, half-seriously, that I am a historian of ideas and a teacher of political philosophy, hidden in a political science department. At all Québec universities, as in the rest of North America, much of the business of political science has to do with positivistic approaches, quantitative methods, and rational choice theories for explaining social behaviour. Within the discipline, I belong to the minority methodological and epistemological position. To make sense of politics, I believe one has to rely on an interdisciplinary approach. The insights of philosophy, history, literature, sociology, and law can all enrich the search for coherent and meaningful interpretations of political events, phenomena, and doctrines. Such a combination forms the spirit or, as the Germans say, Geist of a humanistic approach to the study of politics. This book is one example of doing political science in such a way, applied to the task of interpreting the situation of Québec and of Québecers within the Canadian federation.

The book belongs squarely to the discipline of political science with chapters studying the theory and practice of Canadian federalism, as well as analysing various aspects of nationalism in Québec. It borrows heavily from the domain of constitutional law in chapters dealing with Canada’s fundamental laws of 1867 and 1982. Intellectual history has always fascinated me, and I hope that readers who share my interest...

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