Freedom, Equality, Community: The Political Philosophy of Six Influential Canadians.


184 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-7735-3034-7
DDC 320'.01




Edited by James Bickerton, Stephen Brooks, and Alain-G. Gagnon
Reviewed by Paul G. Thomas

Paul G. Thomas is a political science professor at the University of
Manitoba and the co-author of Canadian Public Administration:
Problematical Perspectives.


Canadians are not known for deep philosophical musings in their public life. A famous historian observed that we prefer to “live in a mental fog.” Consistent with this orientation, the country has not produced that many “public intellectuals,” deep thinkers whose ideas have mattered in public life. Coping, pragmatism, and compromise seem to be our mottos in terms of tackling the challenges of a pluralistic society which exists in the shadow of an economic and communications giant to the south.


The three authors of this fairly short book take issue with this alleged lack of public philosophy by highlighting the ideas of six thinkers who have shaped the political traditions of both English and French Canada. The six thinkers are George Grant, Harold Innis, Andre Laurendeau, Marcel Rioux, Charles Taylor, and Pierre Trudeau. Only the last could be described as a household name across the country. Certainly the other French-speaking writers would not be well-known in English Canada.


Relative obscurity does not mean irrelevance, however. The six thinkers grappled with many of the fundamental issues of public life—such as the nature of the country, national unity, dealing with the economic and cultural spillover from the U.S., the concepts of justice and fairness in a diversified society, and the nature of individual freedom. Their contributions to political thought remain relevant to the issues Canada faces today. This book will be read mainly by academics and their students. Hopefully it will convince them that ideas of our leading thinkers have counted in Canadian public life.


“Freedom, Equality, Community: The Political Philosophy of Six Influential Canadians.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed January 27, 2023,