Study Questions: Chapter 2
1. What are the three explanations of Canadians’ political ideas and the institutions that embody them?
Fragment theory says that New World societies were fragments of European societies. When immigrants came to Canada they brought with them their ideas and values, including those about politics. 2) Formative events theory says that societies are marked by critical events at critical periods in their development, which set them along a particular course. 3) Economic structures and political ideas say that the dominant ideas of society are inevitably those of the most powerful class, that is, those who control the means of production. (pp. 41–48)
2. What is sovereignty-association? How does it differ from separatism in Quebec?
Sovereignty-association is generally understood to mean a politically sovereign Quebec that would be linked to Canada through some sort of commercial union or free trade agreement. Separatism—or secession—is taken to mean complete political and economic independence. (pp. 54–55)
3. What are the main differences between Canada and the United States in the gun control debate?
In the US, gun control legislation is seen as an infringement of one’s freedom. In Canada, few would argue this. Opponents in Canada tend to argue that the evidence that this legislation would be effective is not convincing. In the US, gun advocates argue that they need the right to bear arms in order to protect themselves against not only criminals but also the state. In Canada, this argument is not used, mainly because Canadians have a more positive attitude about the role of the state. (pp. 58–59)
4. How do Canada and the United States compare when it comes to gender and racial equality? Is there a significant difference between the two countries in these two respects?
With respect to racial equality, it appears that racist sentiments are somewhat more pervasive in the US than in Canada. On the other hand, the US has a black President, a much higher percentage of blacks hold public office in the US than in Canada, and that the number of blacks among the chief executive officers of the largest 1000 companies is greater than for the 1000 largest companies in Canada. The average incomes of blacks in Canada are about 80 per cent of white Canadians, roughly the same as in the US. With respect to gender, differences between Canada and the US are not great. In some cases, Canada tends to be more equal, while in others, the US tends to be more equal. The percentage of female legislators in each country’s national legislature is not very different and public opinion is almost identical in the two countries regarding relations between the sexes and the roles appropriate to each. (pp. 61–66)
5. In what ways does the Canadian government “do more” than the American government?
Canadian governments do more than American governments to redistribute wealth. They have been resistant to the enlargement of private health care. They own corporations to provide services. They do more to promote particular cultural values, (e.g., multiculturalism and bilingualism). In Canada, the state accounts for a larger share of gross national expenditure and taxes its citizens more. (pp. 66–68)
6. According to your textbook, do Americans value freedom more than Canadians?
The argument is made that Americans value freedom more than Canadians. Canadians’ greater acceptance of government intervention is said to illustrate this. However, it may be argued that Americans tend to see freedom primarily as the absence of government barriers and intervention; the primary role of government is to restrain itself. Canadians, on the other hand, may recognize the value of government action to remove barriers, thus enhancing individual freedom. Canadians’ greater willingness to permit government restrictions on individual behaviour does not mean that they value freedom less, but rather that they are more likely than Americans to believe that real freedom often requires that government interfere with individual property rights and economic markets. (pp. 58–61)
7. Why should the cultural mosaic and melting pot theses for Canada and the United States, respectively, be accepted with caution?
With respect to the US, the authors point out that a combination of government policy and court decisions has steered the country away from the melting pot and towards the cultural mosaic society. Furthermore, other studies show that the differences between Canada and the US are more apparent than real. In these views, there is almost no empirical basis for Canadians’ belief that they are less assimilationist than Americans. (pp. 62–74)
8. In what ways are Canadians both more demanding of the state and more passive towards it than Americans?
Canadians are more demanding. For instance, Canadian governments do more to redistribute wealth than do US governments. In Canada, the state accounts for a larger share of Gross National Expenditure than does the state in the US. On the passivity question, it has historically been argued that Canada is a deferential society, willing to accept, more or less without question, the decisions of authority. In recent years, that thesis has been called into question. The public reaction to the Mulroney government’s constitutional accords reflects a society that is anything but deferential! Neil Nevitte argues further that levels of confidence in government have declined since the 1980s. And Brooks and Ménard argue that evidence gleaned from certain types of political behaviour suggests that Canadians and Americans are not much different on the deference question. (pp. 62–74)
9. Explain the arguments made by Newman and Nevitte regarding their perceptions that Canada has shifted from deference to defiance.
Newman argues that Canadians have moved from deference to defiance. Indicators include the growth of the underground cash economy, the breakdown of the old two-party dominance, the rejection of the Charlottetown Constitutional Accord, the violent clashes between Aboriginals and white authorities at Oka, and the near-victory of the secessionist forces in Quebec. The causes include the arrogance of politicians, the more competitive global economy, the inability of governments to finance social entitlements, and the decline of religious faith. Nevitte agrees with Newman. He attributes the decline of deference to the emergence of postmaterialist values. Materialists, he notes, are more likely to have confidence in public institutions and to trust the judgment of elites. Nevitte shows that Canadians’ confidence in government declined during the 1980s and Canadians are increasingly skeptical of government institutions. (pp. 68–70)
10. What conclusion do Brooks and Ménard make about how the value differences between Canada and the United States are not very great, yet neither are they inconsequential?
Brooks and Ménard conclude that the value differences between Canada and the US are small, especially when compared to the differences between Canada and most other Western democracies. In addition, Canadians and Americans are becoming more similar in respect to some values but more different in others. (pp. 71–74)
Study Questions: Chapter 3
1. Why are Canadian unemployment rates generally higher than unemployment rates in the United States?
The explanation that Brooks and Ménard say is usually offered by Canadians is that the lower ate has been “bought” with lower wages and greater income inequality. The authors have doubts about the lower wages argument. (pp. 79–80)
2. What is the dominant liberal ideology in Canada?
According to Brooks and Ménard, the essential elements of the dominant liberal ideology in Canada are individualism and a belief that opportunities to get ahead in life are open to those with the energy and talent needed to take advantage of them. (p. 82)
3. What has the distribution of income in Canada looked like since the late 1950s?
It has not changed much. In 2007, the richest one-fifth received about 47 per cent of all income while the poorest fifth received about 4 per cent. In 1957, the top quintile got 41.4 percent of all income and the poorest got 4.2 percent. (pp. 82–85)
4. What are the barriers to socio-economic mobility in Canada?
It appears that gender, ethnicity, race, and family background continue to exert a significant downward pull on mobility. Of these, family background—i.e., the education, occupation, and income of one’s parents—appears to be the most important. (pp. 86–88)
5. How is Canada’s corporate elite unrepresentative of Canada’s general population?
Sociologists John Porter and Wallace Clement have done the most thorough studies of the Canadian corporate elite. For example, the corporate elite continue to be dominated by men; most of the elite are males; and many have attended exclusive private schools. People from non-Anglo-Saxon backgrounds are grossly under-represented. And well over half of the economic elite belong to one or more of the most prominent private clubs in Canada. (pp. 88–89)
6. What role does the structure of the state play in addressing social inequalities?
It affects what sorts of inequalities governments deal with and it influences the opportunities and resources available to different interests. For example, Canadian governments have long targeted more money at regional economic inequalities than have US governments because of the particular division of powers under the Canadian constitution and the relatively greater leverage of the provincial governments than the state governments. The Charter, too, has had a substantial impact on the prominence of equality rights issues, the strategies that groups use to achieve their goals, and the treatment of certain groups. (pp. 89–92)
7. How are happiness and level of satisfaction with life among Canadians related to material well-being?
Brooks and Ménard say that there is a correlation between material well-being and the level of satisfaction with life expressed by a nation’s population. Canadians are far more likely to express a high degree of satisfaction with their lives than to say that they are very happy. Why this distinction exists is not clear. (p. 93)
8. What steps did Canada take en route to self-government?
The first step was in 1848 when the principle of responsible government was recognized in Nova Scotia and the United Province of Canada, followed by the other colonies soon afterward. The second step was Confederation in 1867. The third step was the acquisition of the power to enter into international treaties in 1931. The fourth step was in 1949 when the Supreme Court of Canada became Canada’s final court of appeal. The fifth step was in 1947 when the Canadian Citizenship Act was passed. The sixth step was in 1982 when the power to amend the constitution was taken away from the UK Parliament and given to Canada. (pp. 96–97)
9. In what way(s) does Canada demonstrate economic dependence?
Canada is heavily dependent on foreign capital, imports and export markets. What is unique about Canada is that we have really only one trading partner: the US. It accounts for the vast majority of our exports and imports. Culturally, we depend heavily on the US and this is reflected in our economic relations. What we watch, what we read, how we read, who we read, what and who we listen to, etc. are mostly all foreign. (pp. 97–99)
10. How is Canada influenced by American culture