The European Roots of Canadian Identity


Philip Resnick / Soft cover

What makes Canada a different kind of society from the United States? In this book-length essay, Philip Resnick argues that, in more ways than one, Canada has been profoundly marked by its European origins. This is most apparent where the European historical underpinnings both of English-speaking and French-speaking Canada are concerned, but it is no less true when one examines Canada's multiple national identities, robust social programs, increasingly secular values and multilateral outlook on international affairs today. As the war in Iraq brought home, and the 2004 federal election reinforced, Canada is a more European-type society than is our neighbour to the south.

This does not come without its own complexities or problems. On the contrary, there are significant parallels between the ambiguous versions of national identity that one finds in Canada and what one finds on the European continent. There are parallels, too, between the elements of self-doubt that characterize Canadians overall when they think about their country and those of Europeans caught up in their own, often fractious, attempts to forge a more integrated Europe. The author argues that Canada needs Europe as an effective counter-weight to the influence of the United States. He further argues that, at a deeper existential level, Canadians need relevant European references to better understand what makes them the kind of North Americans that they are.