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REVIEWS 273 ultimately, isthatCanada needs todevelop amodern response totheproblems raisedbynortherndevelopment, if wearetoavoidthedifficultiesandobvious injustices of thepast.Page's studydeserves a wideaudience. i{v.•co•,T•sUniversity ofVictoria The Patriot Game: National Dreams & Political Realities. i,F.,rF.R BRIMELOW. Toronto:KeyPorterBooks•986. Pp.3•o. $24.95 Thisbookwillannoymanyreadersof theCanadian HistoricalReview. It makes a swinging attackon the political,bureaucratic, and academic establishment whose entirewell-being rests onthepromotion ofCanadian nationalism. While Peter Brimelow identifies the federal Liberal party as the selfishand thoughtless inventorofthismodernactivity ofcreating aCanadian identity,he argues thatitisnowapervasive disease throughoutCanada's nationalpolitical andculturalelite.The thesis isadvanced in somewhat breathless journalese whichbombardsthe reader with a welter of interviewsand anecdotes,but it isa powerfuland simpleone,madealmostrespectable by selective foraysinto Canadianhistory.Accordingto Brimelow,the taskof creatinga genuine dualityin Canadais hopeless. The francophones of Quebecare willy-nilly becoming a nation.Whether or not Quebecbreaksfrom Confederationand becomes anindependent stateisbeside thepoint;theplainfactisthatQuebec isbeingstrengthened asthenational homeland forFrenchCanadians. Quebec interest inbilingualism atthefederallevelispurelyexpedient, andQufibficois (andQufib•coise) havenointerest inabilingualandbiculturalCanadafromSt John'sto Victoria.In pursuitof the hopeless taskof creatingthisbilingual nationstate,Liberalgovernments andacademics havesystematically emasculatedtheEnglish -Canadian heritage, rewritingCanadian history insuch away astodiscount theBritishcontribution tocontemporary Canada.(Brimelowis mosteloquenton the forgottenCanadiandead at Vimy Ridge.)Thus, in pursuitof an unrealizable goal,EnglishCanadians are beingreducedto a people withouta historyandarebeingspoonfed an artificial,intellectualized version of theCanadianidentity.The wholeintellectual construct thatsustains thisapproach toCanada- aviewof Canadaasabilingual,multi-ethnic nation whosehistorymustbe recastto meet presentneeds- is a concoction of nationalist politicians and academics. This is the 'patriotgame'theyhave invented andnoworganize.They continueto playbecause theyare prime beneficiaries astheyreceivesubsidies, getgovernment appointments, attract mediaattention, andare protectedfrom outsideculturalcompetition. It iseasy forcautious academic historians topickholesinBrimelow's version ofCanadian history andsociety. Forexample,heisagreatadmirerofGoldwin Smith's•89• classic Canada andtheCanadian Question. Indeed,thisbookcould besummed upasaslick,modernversionof Smith's viewof Canada's character 274 THE CANADIAN HISTORICAL REVIEW and Canada'sfate. Yet, while praising Goldwin Smith to the skiesfor understanding the'American' destiny ofCanada,Brimelow inthesame breath writesapprovinglyof SaraJeanetteDuncan'sTheImperialist (•9o4) and proceeds toarguewithsome vehemence thattheBritish-Canadian nationalism thatwas somuchpartofCanada's pasthasbeenburiedbeyond recallbyPierre Trudeauandhisilk. It ispossible toreconcile theSmithandDuncanviews of Canadabetween189oand •9•4, but onlyif oneaccepts that the Canadian identity isambiguous, complex, andsometimes actually contradictory. It was in thebeginning anditwilleverremainso- atleast duringthelifetimes ofthose readingthisreview.Brimelow's hugeblindspot ishisinsistence thattheremust beasimple solution somewhere. In hiscase itistoletthemarketrule,andallow Canadato take her placesimplyas anotherregionin the broader North Americancultureandeconomy. The question, whatdid ordinaryCanadians thinkof 'Canada'in •89• and whatdotheythinknow,isonewhichallreaders ofthisbookmustanswer. The cruxof Brimelow's caseisthat the nationalist gameplayedbythe Canadian elite doesnot penetratedown into popular culture, whichis thoroughly Americanized.This is the 'reality'asdistinctfrom the dream-likeworld in whichthepatriotgameisplayed.The reaction ofCanadian voters toperceived threatsof Americanabsorptionin •89•, •9 • •, and during the •96os and 197os, andthefindings of currentopinionpollsonfearsassociated withthe free-trade talks,allsuggest thatCanadiannationalism (some version thereof) mayindeedhavedeeperrootsthanBrimelow allows. Still,assumptions thatall Canadians, even thoseout of work or strugglingto raisefamilieson low incomes, sharethe viewthat it is worth payinga priceto protectCanada's distinctive role in North Americaoughtto be questioned by academics who write so gliblyin this vein. In this context,I can understandBrimelow's resentment against the complacency and smugness of leadingparticipants in thepatriotgame.Here,perhaps, isagreattaskforCanadian social historians toinvestigate anddelineate concepts of Canadaatthelevelof popularculture ratherthantheliteraryandscholarly level. In the end, Brimelow'scavaliertreatment of Canadianhistoryand his insistence thatordinaryCanadianssharenoneof the valuesandgoalsof the elitemakehisthesis dubious. Butheshould bereadseriously andwithanopen mind by all who claimto speakon behalf of Canadiannationalism. Such arbiters of Canadian politics andcultureoughttothinkhardaboutwhatthey are doing and whom they are serving.For my own part, I think the never-endingtaskof keeping Canada from becominganother group of regions in North Americaisa gamethat isworththecandle.It is,asEdward Blakeobserved longago,a 'morearduousdestiny' thanoptingfor economic success withtheUnited States. The struggleto maketheconcept of Canadaa realitymay neversucceed. But suchstruggles are what life is all aboutfor nations as for individuals. •ORDO•s•rEw^R•r Michigan StateUniversity ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1710-1093
Print ISSN
0008-3755
Pages
pp. 273-274
Launched on MUSE
2016-04-06
Open Access
No
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