Political Science, History, and Sociology
DORAN, CHARLES F. Why Canadian Unity Matters and Why AmeriÂ
cans Care: Democratic Pluralism at Risk. Toronto: U Toronto P, 2001.
Once again, Charles Doran has written an ambitious book concerning the
importance of Canadian politics and its implications for the United States.
His primary goal in this work is to explain the dangers that Quebec sepaÂ
ratism poses to democratic pluralism across the world. His secondary goal
is to examine the various scenarios that could result from the Quebec sepaÂ
Ideologically, Doran strongly favors democratic pluralism, in which
diverse groups maintain their cultures while participating in a single state.
This is obviously a difficult and important process. As Doran points out,
there are worldwide about 8000 movements advocating cultural distinctiveness, although relatively few of them turn to violence. Separatist movements,
Doran argues, could drastically damage current successful accommodation.
Attacking the approaches of contemporary liberals, communitarians, primordialists, sociobiologists, and others, he argues that separatism is a politÂ
ical project formulated by self-interested political entrepreneurs who
manage to gain a local following by emphasizing the need to favor members
of the narrowly defined in-group. He gives no heed to claims that separaÂ
tion may be necessary to protect a language or culture from slipping below
the threshold of sustainability. Instead, he argues that invidious comparÂ
isons then reduce civility to the point where secession is seen as the only
The main body of the book addresses a series of interrelated questions
about Quebec separatism. The question of the likelihood of Quebec secesÂ
sion is addressed through historical sociology of responses to Quebec
nationalism. He notes the difficulty posed by the tension between ethnic
and civic nationalism, and analyzes the myriad factors that could affect
secessionism. The question "Will Quebec Secede?" is left unanswered, since
Doran notes that the Quebec nationalists have not stated bottom line condiÂ
tions, and proponents of a united Canada do not seem willing to accommoÂ
date Quebec demands. He simply argues that the difficulties of such
relations could force Quebecers to play the secession card.
Doran then turns his attention to the potential of a Canada without
Quebec. The prognosis is not good. What is left of Canada would face sevÂ
eral problems that have been discussed by a number of scholars: the
Atlantic Provinces would be isolated; transfer payments would likely be terÂ
minated; Ontario would be the hegemonic province; Western alienation
would probably skyrocket; and North-South pressure would increase.
Clearly, it is in the interest of both Canada and the United States to maintain
a unified country.