Lament for a Nation: The Defeat of Canadian Nationalism
author: George Grant
publisher: Carleton Univ Press
place published Ottawa
keywords: Nationalism – Canada Canada – Politics and government – 20th century Diefenbaker, John G. (John George), 1895-1979 United States – Relations – Canada
page count: 111
“In a society of large bureaucracies, power is legitimized by conscious and unconscious processess” – page 57
i’m not often fond of political rhetoric, but i am quite taken with George Grant. i was drawn to this book as i have respect for the ideals and ideals of the man, and wanted to discover what caused his sadness for our nation. this book was published in 1965 and i found it to be a difficult read as many of the intensely reinforced political examples were from the period of 1960-1965 – not one i remember well.
one of the striking features of this book was not just the title, but the subtitle – “the defeat of canadian nationalism” – that caught my interest. in reading this book i wanted to discover what grant considered to be “canadian nationalism” that was lost. i wanted to glean an understanding of a historical nationalism and consider it in modern canada.
many of the themes in the book ring true today; the east/west power conflict, decisions based on trade relations rather than national self-interest, and the ever present and shaping will of america. the basic premise of the book is that as our economy is further entwined with america we become inextricably linked to the cultural and social demands of that nation. there is only so much room on the plate for national adgenda, and every large and small decision that ties our economic fate to america means less room for canadian culture.
there is a possibility of interacting with america in a manner that is beneficial and constructive for our culture and our economy, but that would mean our neighbours to the south would have to work at the relationship of our two countries. there is no advantage of interest for them to do so. logic would argue that decisions in the best interest of our national culture would be the easy to make, but america is the most powerful nation in the world, and aligning our economy with that powerful machine drives a lot of the policy making in our country.
“This was Mackenzie King’s chief political achievement. The organization of the war and postwar reconstruction was carried on within the assumption that government action never questioned the ultimate authority of business interests to run the economy.” – page 61
grant writes that decisions made in the favour of large business are often in opposition to the health of canadian nationalism. i found this particularly disheartening in light of our current social climate, and our current prime minister – a liberal ex-finance minister.
having read through the book, i can clearly see how we could make canada stronger. however, i can see that it’s unlikely to occur with the government currently in power. as our country aligns further and further with our
neighbour neighbor to the south, i’m beginning to understand that many of these decisions were made 40 or 50 years ago.