Does Canada Matter?: Liberalism and the Illusion of Sovereignty


214 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-921870-64-7
DDC 971.064'8





Reviewed by Terry A. Crowley

Terry A. Crowley is a professor of history at the University of Guelph,
and the former editor of the journal Ontario History. He is the author
of Agnes Macphail and the Politics of Equality and Canadian History to
1967, and the co-author of The College on


Liberal-bashing has become a fashionable activity for both left and
right. Among its recent expressions is this peculiar little diatribe by
Camosun College history instructor Clarence Bolt. Desperately wanting to
update George Grant’s Lament for a Nation (1965) in our own time, but
lacking that philosopher’s formidable intellectual equipment, Bolt has
produced a left-wing mishmash of noble sentiment that is short on
sustained or convincing analysis.

Readers may initially get the impression that Bolt likes so little
about Canada—detesting, above all, suburbia, consumer society, and
what he calls the growth and development “myth”—that the answer to
the question posed in the title is self-evident: the country does not
matter. The author believes that Canada’s sovereignty, always fragile,
has been sold out to neoliberal transnational imperialism, which he sees
as having evolved naturally out of nation–state colonialism. His case
is summarized in one sentence: “Under the seductive blandishments of
liberal, capitalist ideology, scientific knowledge, and modern
technology, we are witnessing the global spread of many of the
industrial world’s worst political, economic, social, and
environmental practices, especially individualistic consumer-culture.”

Liberalism and neoliberalism are constantly moving targets that Bolt
never pins down successfully. If Canada were Mexico, where peso
devaluation and presidential corruption accompanied the neoliberal free
trade agenda, Bolt’s polemics might strike a more responsive cord; as
it stands, he fails to convince the reader that the dangers he fears so
intently are as real as he apparently thinks.


Bolt, Clarence., “Does Canada Matter?: Liberalism and the Illusion of Sovereignty,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 20, 2024,