We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

Chapter 4: Being English-Speaking Canadian

Hugh Segal, “Advancing the ‘Canadian Ideal’”


  1. What does Segal mean by the “Canadian ideal”?
  2. According to Segal, Canadian history is relevant to the Canadian ideal. How?
  3. Segal says, “in the same way excessive patriotism is the refuge of the scoundrel, so too is ideology a conceit behind which can be found politicians who have little else but empty slogans or hollow cant to offer.” What does he mean by this?
  4. “Sustaining the Canadian ideal may require some new courage on our part,” Segal says What do we need courage to do, and why will it require courage?


  1. Segal says, “the Canadian ideal requires the architecture of economic performance and social civility to prosper and advance.” What does he mean by this? What balance between economic progress and social programs does he favour? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  2. Segal is a well-known conservative. What kind of conservative is he? What is your evidence from this article that he is a particular kind of conservative?

Will Kymlicka, “Being Canadian”


  1. What does Kymlicka mean by the external dimensions of Canadian identity? What are the internal dimensions of Canadian identity?
  2. Kymlicka says Canada contains two kinds of ethnocultural diversity. What are they? How do they differ from each other?
  3. What is multination federalism? How does Canada exemplify it?
  4. How we deal with immigrant groups, Aboriginal peoples, and Quebec nationalism do not make us distinct, Kymlicka says. What does make us distinct with respect to these sorts of diversity?
  5. What is identity politics? How is it a factor in Canadian politics, according to Kymlicka?
  6. Kymlicka describes identity politics in Canada as banal. Why?


  1. Kymlicka says claims about Canadian distinctiveness are overblown. Why does he say this? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  2. Kymlicka says we as Canadians see ourselves as citizens of the world. What is required to be a good citizen of the world? Why? Do you think Canadians are good citizens of the world? Why or why not?
  3. Kymlicka suggests that citizens cooperate when political institutions are trustworthy, even in the absence of a strong national identity. Why does he say this? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?
  4. Does Kymlicka think it is important to have a Canadian identity? Why or why not? Do you? Why or why not? (If you are on a visa, do you identify with your home country? Why or why not?)


  1. Segal sees Canadian history as an important part of Canadian identity. Kymlicka, however, spends much less time on history. What do you think they would say to each other? What do you think Borrows, Chaput, Tully, or Taylor would say? What is your own view, and why?
  2. Kymlicka argues that a pan-Canadian identity is unnecessary. Why does he say this? Do you think Segal would agree? How about Taylor or Borrows? Why? What do you think, and why?
  3. According to Kymlicka, identity claims are negotiable in Canada. Why does he say this? Do you think Borrows, Chaput, Lamoureux, Shachar, or Berger would agree? Why or why not? What do you think, and why?
  4. As Kymlicka says, many countries have strong national identities but little trust in political institutions. He cites Russia as an example, but this is true of almost every poor country in the world, especially former colonies. But most countries with trustworthy political institutions—primarily wealthy democracies—do have strong national identities. (Think of the countries in western Europe, Australia, Japan, and the US.) Kymlicka suggests they can or will move away from national identities. Why does he say this? Do you agree with him? Why or why not?