Government of Saskatchewan
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
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Standing on Guard Canadian Identity, Globalization and Continental Integration

Canadians have always been concerned about the nation’s relationship with the United States, and it has long been held that this concern has helped Canadians define their national identity. However, they do recognize that, in a world that is rapidly shrinking due to trade and technology, and where ideas, styles, trends, and attitudes travel the world in seconds, there is, inevitably, a process of homogeneity at work. For Canada, living so close to the United States, globalization often means Americanization. Yet, even in the face of rapid globalization and the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Canadians have become more conscious of their identity. In fact, the Canadian identity has been strengthened, not diminished, in the era of globalization and continental integration.

The evidence from the past decades appears to suggest that it is possible for Canada, and Canadian nationalism and identity, not only to survive but also thrive in the 21st Century, even as the forces of North American economic and cultural integration and globalization gather strength. Canadian identity is founded on confidence and pride, not fear. Canadians are comfortable in their identity and have a considerable faith in their country’s future for the first time in two or three decades. It has been noticed that values in the two countries have been diverging in recent years, because Canada’s founding values, historical experiences, and political institutions are very different from those in the United States and have a greater influence on Canadians’ contemporary values than the much vaunted forces of globalization. Despite the cultural elites’ unfounded anxiety for generations, there has always been a distinct Canadian identity, and as Canadians we are secure and confident in our identity.

There are other strong reasons why Canadians today are more confident in the future survival of Canada. These include factors like our liberalized immigration policy, a policy of multiculturalism, a commitment to bilingualism, a strong social security policy, the Canadian Bill of Rights, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, a commitment to peacekeeping, and a commitment to protecting and promoting the Canadian culture. There has also been a long process of ‘Canadianization’ at work, which has been evident in the creation of symbols like the Canadian flag and in the actions of the federal government, through its initiatives in the ‘branding of Canada’. It has also been fostered through our education system, activism of the courts, and our brush with the possibility of losing Canada during the 1995 referendum on Quebec. The important lesson is that, in the process of globalization and continentalism, Canadians have found themselves and their country.


Raymond B. Blake

Open Document

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