The Department of Government
The Department of Government

Victor Armony: Quebec’s Nationalism against Canada’s Multiculturalism

Tue, April 24, 2012 | BAT 5.108

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Talk by Victor Armony, the 2012 Canada-US Fulbright Visiting Chair in Policy Studies at the University of Texas at Austin

Tuesday, April 24

12 – 1pm

Batts 5.108

“Quebec’s Nationalism against Canada’s Multiculturalism: Is Democratic Legitimacy at Stake?”

Canada, a highly decentralized federation with constitutionally enshrined bilingualism and multiculturalism, has the highest per capita immigration rate in the developed world. Despite this reality, and given Canada’s notoriously weak national identity, it is surprising that internal diversity has not generated any serious social or political rifts. However, the province of Quebec, with almost one quarter of that country’s population, has acquired a quasi-state status, a sort of nation within the nation. Supported by a majority of the French Quebecois people, the government of that province imposes harsh restrictions on the choice of language of business and education, openly rejects multiculturalism, and enforces different selection and integration criteria for immigrants -- based on Quebec’s particular interests rather than Canada’s. In the face of such a context, an external observer might discern a deficit of liberal-democratic legitimacy on Quebec’s part. But by taking into account the larger historical, sociopolitical, and demographic context, it can also be argued that Quebec’s actions actually reflect the core of democratic sovereignty -- its foundations and its inherent contradictions.

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