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THE FUTURE OF UNITY IN CANADA: T\VO VIEvVS The QUARTERLY has asked two distinguished Canadian editors to discuss a problem vital to the future of Canada. M. Edmond Turcotte, editor of Le Canada, canvasses from the point of view of a French-speaking Canadian the difficulties 'and possibilities of future unity between the two races. Mr. B. K. Sandwell, editor of Saturday Night, discusses the same problem from the point of view oj. an English-speaking Canadian. Each writer has been given an opportunity to comment briefly on the views expressed by the other. 1. AS SEEN BY A FRENCH-SPE.'\KI~G CANA.DIAN EDMOND TURCOTTE UNITY in the narrow sense of the word is probably a forlorn hope for , Canada. By unity is meant oneness, selfsameness, identity of national character and .individuality. The day is long past when such a realization was conceivable. The source of the present dual stream in the Canadian nation is to be found as far back in our history as the Quebec Act of 1774, which granted recognition of French civil law and custom to the French colonists of Canada owing allegiance to the British Cro"wn since the Treaty of Paris of 1763. The recognition of French civil law in 1774 was, in addition to the guarantees of free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion and the m!lintenance of the feudal privileges and system, stipulated in the Act of Capitulation signed at Montreal by Amherst and Vaudreuil on September 8, 1760, and reiterated, so far as the guarantees of free exercise of the Roman Catholic religion are concerned, in the Treaty of 1763. Bearing in mind the still low state of political and religioU's tolerance in the \Vestern Europe and the America of the late eighteenth century, it is fair to assume that the restoration of French civil law provided for in the Act sponsored in London in 1774 by the'then Prime Minister, Lord North, and the Colonial Secretary, Lord Dartmouth, sprang rather less from any sense of generosity in these statesmen than from motives of high political expediency. Those were days ofincipient rebellion in the Thirteen Colonies. British statesmanship thought that British communications and strategic bases in North America could be secured against the undertakings of the republican rebels by ensuring, tor a price, the loyalty of a traditionally monarchic people whose language and faith differed from that of the surrounding colonies. The price paid by the Crown in its struggle against the republican insurgents of the ThIrteen Colonies was the Quebec Act of 1774, which contributed so largely to preserve for future generations the national characteristics of the early colonists of Canada. 117 118 THE UNIVERSlTY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY . Thus British colonial policy in the ·late eighteenth century unwittingly germinated·a nation of dual character in the· Canada of the twentieth. For better or for worse, we are now a nation where unity in the narrow sense of national singleness is impossible. That is not to say that a Canadian national life is an.impossible aspiration. But the basis for a common life will have to be sought elsewhe1"e than in the law of unity. "It will have to be sought in the principle of solidarit"y. The distinction between unity and solidarity is not mere word-splitting. Rightly or wrongly-and I think rightly-unity to a French-Canadian ear spells absorption and eventual oblivion. As I said in the beginning) the " time for that is long past. Once a child has grown to manhood, it "is too late to modify radically his view of the part he is to play in the general scheme ,of things. Solidarity, however, has a very cliffe'rent meaning. Solidarity implies a union of responsibilities for the safeguarding or the developing of common interests, and this in turn may lead to the sharing of a common national ideal, as exemplified, for instance, in the deep-rooted national consciousness and patriotism of the Swiss. Deep religious and linguistic cleavag~s running criss-cross over the map of Switzerland are no bar to the existence of the Swiss nation ~s a closely-knit people with national characteristics e, asily distinguishable...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 117-123
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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