Bouchard-Taylor

Quebec survived the defeat of the French Empire in North America, and some
two hundred years and more of insufferable English snobbery, the Union of
the Canadas, Confederation, the travails of industrialization, and the Quiet
Revolution. With aplomb, and grace, and an impressive and highly interesting
degree of intellectual bickering. It will survive this report by Gérard
Bouchard and Charles Taylor.

It’s something of a mish-mash. Consider the title, Building the Future, A
Time for Reconciliation
. Who is to do the reconciling? It appears that
Quebecers of French Canadian origin are being asked to do the heavy lifting.
And what does reconciliation looks like?

There are unctuous suggestions that things will go better for Quebecers of
French Canadian origin if they seek to reduce society’s “splits and
tensions.” They are advised to “accommodate,” to “integrate.” It’s suggested
that they need “a common public culture.”  Indeed, most of the Report deals
the “public culture” of the province – how to manage it, how to massage it.
Orient it to the future. Strengthen it and so on.

Taylor’s has made his great reputation in large part by thinking hard about
ways to maintain universal principles like the equality of individuals,
while allowing expression of the particular ways of life cherished by
groups. And in this report we are showered with high-sounding words and
phrases to suggest that indeed that’s what we should be doing – reconciling
the universal with the particular. Just how is the trick to be done?

The theoretical parts of the report are unhelpful. But we do get an answer.
The best part of the document shows that schools, prisons, airlines,
hospitals, child-care centres and so on are already, and have been for some
time, successfully making the necessary “accommodations.” It’s the old
story: what seems difficult or impossible from the perspective of political
philosophy can sometimes be accomplished in practice.

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