Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique

Canada and the Multinational State

Kenneth  McRoberts a1
a1 Glendon College, York University, Toronto, Ontario

Along with the nations created by states, there are ''internal nations'' within states. Several such nations exist within the Canadian state, representing close to one quarter of the population. In recent years, Canadian political scientists have been actively theorizing this multinationalism and showing how it might be accommodated. Yet, the political realm has become highly resistant to such notions. Dualism, the primary historical accommodation of the francophone ''internal nation,'' has been displaced by a state nationalism which, in turn, has entrenched a purely territorial rationale for federalism and has made multiculturalism the only legitimate basis for accommodating cultural diversity. Moreover, the nationalisms of the two predominant ''internal nations,'' Quebec and ''First Nations,'' have been mobilized in direct opposition to each other. In the end, rather than constituting a new form of ''post-modern state'' which transcends nationalism, Canada is in fact caught in the contradiction between the nationalism of the Canadian state and the nationalisms of its ''internal nations.''