Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Six Rival Regional Cultures of Canada

Much of the attention for American Nations has come from within the United States, but I've always thought the book had at least as much relevance for Canadians, offering an explanation for English-speaking Canada's perennial identity crisis. Spurning some of my marketing-savvy, but Americo-centric friends, I even went so far as to include two Canada-specific chapters. (A pity that Penguin Canada declined to properly stock the book when it took off last fall.)

So I was especially pleased that Vancouver's independent online magazine, The Tyee, picked up on the book this week, and offers some Canadian perspective on the "nations" and current events. Crawford Kilian writes:

"It's both helpful and discouraging to look at Canada as contending nations, not just regions. Our disputes are not mere local squabbles. Nations are not open to calm, reasoned argument against their national interests; they yield only to force or to cost-effective bargains.

So after a century and a half of successful resource exploitation, The Far West has no reason to give a damn about The Left Coast's worries about pipelines and supertankers. Nor does the Left Coast care much for The Far West's corporate values. (But bear in mind that interior B.C. is solidly Far West.)

This contending-nations perspective implies no resolution to the Northern Gateway dispute (and many others) except by force or bribery. Given Woodard's thesis, the only solution for us Left Coasters is a new alliance of Canadian nations that could overcome the present coalition of the Prairies and the Ontario."

Of course, you could always join Cascadia...

Agreed the tension in Canada is between the Far West on one hand and Yankeedom, the Left Coast, and New France on the other. The big complication for those who don't much appreciate Stephen Harper's politics is that the continent's great swing region -- the Midlands -- is far and away the largest nation in Canada, encompassing most of its major population centers in southern Ontario and southeastern Manitoba.

For those wanting to probe the map more closely, there's a high-resolution PDF here.

1 comment:

  1. Stephen Harper is something. He seems rather authoritarian, and trying to be a bigger monarchist than the Queen.

    His party's home region, Alberta, has gotten a lot of oil wealth, and oil wealth tends to be an enemy of democracy: the "resource curse". The only rich and democratic oil-rich countries are Holland and Norway, which already had traditions of democracy before the discovery of their oil. The Gulf States are rich, but far from democracies. In fact, they are a major bastion of a form of government that most of the rest of the world has either greatly weakened or abandoned outright: monarchy.

    Could it be that that effect has also afflicted Texas and US and Canadian Far-West areas?

    Egypt, Oil and Democracy - NYTimes.com
    Visions of Tomorrow: The Democratic Threshold

    As to the other provinces uniting, they'll have to stop splitting their votes among parties. On the longer term, they will have to start pushing for proportional representation. I find it curious that the UK, the US, and Canada continue to lack proportional representation.

    Finally, what might be the future of the monarchy? Might SH's belligerent monarchism provoke a republican backlash? I suspect that Queen Elizabeth II continues to be a head of state of not only Canada, but also Australia and New Zealand and some other places, because she is rather likable. Her successors may not be, and those nations might break free because of that.

    I remember researching the question of monarchy and republicanism, and I found that monarchy was nearly universal for any nation much larger than a city-state until the last century or so. The surviving monarchs are mostly figurehead monarchs, with the main exceptions being in the Middle East and North Korea's reinvention of god kings.