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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 Laforest revisits some key historical documents and events, such as the Durham Report and the 1867 and 1982 constitutional documents.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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Chapter 3: Making Sense of Canada as a Federal System: The Relevance of Historical Legacies


← 38 | 39 → CHAPTER 3

Making Sense of Canada as a Federal System

The Relevance of Historical Legacies

In honour of the late Richard SIMEON (1943-2013)

In philosophy, law, history, sociology, and political science, mostly in English and French, an incredibly vast bibliography exists on the Canadian federal system, the Canadian state, and the historical and political identities of Canada and Québec. I will start this chapter with four general approaches (sometimes visions, sometimes past historical contributions) about the nature of the Canadian state and of the Canadian political identity. I supplement this introductory sketch with a brief enumeration and discussion of the most important years or periods that are essential to understanding the foundation or re-foundation of Canada. This preliminary sketch leads to, and helps make sense of, the four interrelated historical legacies that I wish to discuss in this chapter.1

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