Reimagining Canada: Language, Culture, Community, and the Canadian Constitution


373 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-1152-0
DDC 342.71'03




Reviewed by Eric P. Mintz

Eric P. Mintz is an associate professor of political science at the
Memorial University of Newfoundland.


Although most Canadians are fed up with constitutional discussions, this
book is essential reading for anyone concerned about Canada. With
exceptional clarity, Jeremy Webber examines asymmetrical federalism.
Although the author is an associate professor of law, his book is not
concerned with the details of constitutional interpretation. Rather, the
book skilfully blends broad political, sociological, and philosophical
themes concerning the accommodation of diversity in Canada. The focus,
as might be expected, is on the accommodation of Quebec. But the basic
issues concerning aboriginal self-government are well explained; also
included are shorter but illuminating, discussions of Senate reform and
the significance of the Charter. Overall, the book is really about the
nature of Canada and what it means to be Canadian, with discussion of
the appropriate constitutional framework for Canada, based on a coherent
vision of the country.

Unlike many analysts, Webber provides a hopeful perspective on the
future of Canada. A key, but debatable, assumption is that the majority
of Quebeckers are interested in gaining greater provincial autonomy only
in the areas of culture and in those areas that were originally
provincial. Thus a vibrant Quebec political community could co-exist
with a vibrant Canadian one that also included the participation of
Quebeckers. Likewise, the author assumes that the majority of
aboriginals seek both self-government and participation within the
Canadian political community. Finally, Webber assumes that the
English-speaking majority could embrace a vision of Canada that includes
the recognition of the distinctiveness and the desire for autonomy of
Native peoples and of Quebeckers. By effectively challenging the vision
of Canada based on individual or provincial sameness promoted by Pierre
Trudeau, Clyde Wells, and Preston Manning, Webber shows that an
alternative, more inclusive, vision of Canada is both conceivable and
consistent with Canadian experience. The problem, however, is whether
Canadians would accept the implications this vision has for the
constitutional framework of the country, particularly given the tensions
aroused by the failed constitutional attempts of the past.


Webber, Jeremy., “Reimagining Canada: Language, Culture, Community, and the Canadian Constitution,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 23, 2024,