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HUMANITIES J 77 but abstract empiricism is far from the concrete reality of clashes over rights. An example of how the authors themselves are not 'grounded' in the reality of rights is their failure to provide detail on the 'ordinary citizens' sample beyondbasic demographics. Moreover, the authors engage inelitist put-downs of their non-elite sample by referring to them as 'ordinary/ 'rank-and-file,' 'unsophisticated/ and 'susceptible to the irrational passions of group identity and rivalry.' These characterizations are prefigured by the authors' yearning for more democratic elitism, which is made obvious in their selection of segments to sample and fixed-choice questions to ask. Perhaps this elitist sensibility of political market segmentation also contributes to the breaking up of Canada. (RICHARD v. ERICSON) James W.St.G. Walker. 'Race,' Rights and the Law in the Supreme Court of Canada: Historical Case Studies Wilfrid Laurier University Press: xiii, 450. $44·95 Canadians style themselves a tolerant group. Part of the national selfunderstanding includes the belief that Canada has largely been spared the preoccupation with race as well as the racial strife that has marked the history of the United States. As James W.St.G. Walker's excavation of the legal history of 'race' in the first half of this cenrury discloses, such a belief would be mistaken. As racial anxieties surfaced, the law was often engaged to mould and restrict the racial character of the country. At the same time, both in the courts and among legislators and bureaucrats, agreement about the concept and meaning of 'race' proved unstable and elusive. This history of 'race' is itself one of the most fascinating parts of Walker's tale. From the beginning, the project of European expansion and conquest was fundamental to the 'common sense' of racial difference and hierarchy circulating within Canadian culture. Canadians of British stock participated in this ideology, imperial interests sometimes constrained domestic policy options, and the various branches of the Canadian state borrowed regulatory devices from other colonial jurisdictions to manage the emerging dilemmas of'race.' Yet Walker's account begins after what is arguably the defining Canadian racial encounter, that of the First Nations with their colonizers; the place of First Nations in the unfolding drama remains hauntingly absent throughout. Central to the common sense of 'race' was the idea that certain races were so alien to the dominant culture as to be unassimilable, a fatal threat to the nation-building project. As Walker tells it, by the end of the Second World War this view had been displaced; in part because of the international conflict, ideas about racial essentialism and overt racial discrimination in public policy became largely discredited. 378 LITTERS IN CANADA 1997 The vehicle for this exploration is four Supreme Court of Canada decisions, dating from 1914 to 1955, which Walker proposes as keys to unlocking the cultural sensibilities about race as well as markers of their transformation over time. Walker devotes some discussion to the turn towards interpretation in contemporary historiography and the analysis of law as culture. Adopting Geertzian 'thick description' as method, he explores the social context beneath the case reports and the shifting roles played by social groups such as trade unions. Walker chose welL as these four cases disclose a panoply of approaches to race regulation in the era prior to human rights legislation and the Charter. Immigration policy, whether through restrictions or outright exclusions, has always been fundamental to the control of race in Canada. It was employed relentlessly against the Chinese, as the discussion around the first case, Quong Wing v The King, reveals, and it remained effective well into the 1950s when Harry Singh, an East Indian from Trinidad, was deported after the court found no jurisdiction to review discriminatory racial classifications. Challenges to constitutional powers provided one avenue of potential redress for victims, although Quong Wing's attempt to invalidate the employment restrictions to which the Chinese were subject ultimately proved futile. Where the concept of the alien was inapplicable and exclusion unavailable, state-backed entitlements to engage in discrimination under the aegis of property and contract rights were employed. The famed case of Christie v York charts the use of freedom...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 377-378
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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