The Two Canadas as a Story Without an End: Institutional Choices and the State of the Federation

YASMEEN ABU-LABAN

The Two Canadas as a Story Without an End: Institutional Choices and the State of the Federation 

Les deux Canadas comme un histoire sans fin : Choix institutionnels et l’état de la fédération 

I use the debates surrounding the 2015 federal election as a launching pad to consider an « open » versus « closed » understanding of the Canadian federation in all its diversity. The idea of « two Canadas » is not strictly related to partisan politics. Rather the two Canadas I illustrate have to do with the general understanding and approach taken to diverse others—whether there is an openness, embrace and trust of others, or whether there is a closure, rejection and fear of others.

In a country of 36 million people, each of us navigates our approach to others on a daily basis, but it is also a choice made collectively through institutions, including arrangements, strategies and policies relating to federalism, political parties and elections, and government. The tension between the closed and open Canada is rooted in Canada’s foundation as a settler-colony and has always reverberated in different ways over time. Consequently, if we see an open Canada as a more compelling vision of where we want to live then it necessarily involves ongoing engagement and commitment. I conclude by considering the ways in which we have new opportunities to re-imagine an open Canada for the 21st century.

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