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THE FUTURE OF ' UNITY IN CANADA not so i~1tended. 'I am convinced that if French Canadians would only think more of their power and less of their helplessness we should all get along much better together. The one great obstacle to the liberalizing at French Canada is the conviction o( so many liberallY-lnclined French Canadians that it is no use working at it because "the 'Canadien' conservative rulers and their allies, the English overlords" (now of course the English-speaking majority in Canada) still have "a .common interest in preserving the existing shape of things" in French Canada. II. AS SE'EN .BY AN ENGLISH-SPEA.I\)NG CAl\'ADIAN B. K. SANDWELL THE parallel between the position of Southern (and Catholic) Ireland in the United Kingdom before the Treaty, and the position of French (and Catholic) Quebec in the Dominion of Canada and in the political structures which preceded the Dominion, is sufficiently close to suggest the drawing ofmany interesting conclusions, but also sufficiently incomplete to make it necessary to scrutinize all such conclusions very carefully. Both countries were cases of a Catholic society which in the eighteenth century was dispossessed of almost all political power by the tests, oaths of aHegiance, and other devices for restricting the rights of citizenship to Protestants; 'so long as these continued in force the benefits of such democratic institutions as existed were confined to Protestants. As the,principle of Catholic Emancipation made headway-and it did so in Canada even earlier than in the United Kingdom-it extended the benefits of democracy more and more to the French Canadians as to the Irish; but in both cases always with the safeguard for Protestantism, that the effective political unit to be operated by the democracy must be one in which the French and the Irish in the respective cases would be in a minority. This situation was "terminated in the case of the Irish by the establishment of the Irish Free State, to develop later into the completely sovereign nation of Eire with its own control over the ultimate powers of peace and war. In the case of the French Canadians it still exists. That the situation of this minority led in Ireland to the Easter Rebellion and the Treaty, and in Canada has caused no serious disturbance since 1837 (and that a very limited one both in scope and in objectives), is due mainly to a marked difference in the geopolitics of the two countries. Ireland was an old and (for its economic structure) over-populated country in which government by a section of the population was bound to lead to a land problem of the most acute kind. Canada was a new and underpopulated country in which there could be ,no land problem"because there was a super-abundance of land. This condition has of course"long since come to an end so far as the French Province of Quebec is concerned, but 126 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORO~TO QUARTERLY it was not ,an alien "landlordism 'that brought it to an end) but the enormous multiplication of the French-Canadian population itself; and the one available remedy of emigration has been far less painful to the French Canadians than t9 the Irish (though not entirely painless) because it . entailed movement only to the other provinces of Canada, involving no change of national government, or to the adjacent parts ,of the United States, from .which the return to the homeland was so easy that no sense of "exile" was possibJe. In French Canada as in Catholic Ireland the sense of minority helplessness has┬Ětended to en.courage the growth of a somewhat exclusive, ingrowing) highly nationalistic culture, maintained in strong and conscious opposition to the majority culture of the rest of the p~litical unit. It is this culture) far more than any natural difference of racial character in the individual, "which has.fostered the cleavage between Irishman and English or Scottish citizen of Great Britain, and between French Canadian and Canadian of the dominant North American type. Separated from this special culture and the forces and institutions which maintain it (and which are largely associated with the Catholic religion...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 125-132
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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