Overview of Canadian Politics

The Agenda with Steve Paikin. (2012). Canadian Disagreements. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpBajjmOBCM. This video is an excellent discussion among four big name lecturers—Armine Yalnizyan, Andrew Coyne, John Ibbitson, and John Duffy—on the topic of Canadian political culture. Among some of the topics discussed is the decline of the Laurentian consensus and some of the challenges that Justin Trudeau is going to face in the future with regards to equality, income, employment, economics, and other issues that deal with political culture at the surface level.

CBC News. (2017). Controversial religious symbols law passed in Quebec. YouTube.www.youtube.com/watch?v=qg2YpTg-KA8. This video explores the consequences of Bill C21 as explained by members from both the Quebec government and the public, specifically various ethnic communities. Bill 21 is a legislation passed in Quebec that bans religious symbols in public workplace. This discussion centers around the rights and freedoms of those affected by the bill and is a classic example of the polarized division between secular and non-secular sentiments in Canada.

Neidik, A. (1992). Between the Solitudes. National Film Board of Canada. www.nfb.ca/film/between_the_solitudes. This moving documentary from the perspective of Anglophones in Montreal explains the trials and tribulations of living in a city as a minority. It is a great introduction to understanding divisive language lines and it will also provide students with a good foundation for further chapters on political culture and regionalism.

Terrill, S. (2003). Growing Up Canadian: Media. National Film Board of Canada. www.nfb.ca/film/growing_up_canadian_media/. One of the issues briefly discussed in this chapter is the role of social media and how it affects political perceptions. But what about the times before social media was invented? This part of the miniseries explores the role that media played in our childhood. It covers media from a communication, entertainment, and infotainment perspectives. This documentary therefore, provides a good background on pre social-media standards of interaction and education. 

Halm, H., Hirsch, K., & Wilson, D. (2000).Postcards from Canada. National Film Board of Canada. www.nfb.ca/film/postcards_from_canada. This documentary offers a picturesque interpretation of Canada, including some magnificent shots of the Canadian landscape. Narrated to include Canada’s history, culture, and geographic elements, this documentary is a beautiful interpretation of what Canada represents.

CBC News. (2017). Treaties, Reconciliation and Indigenous History in Canada. CBC. www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9KJM3pjvKg. This video features an in-depth roundtable discussion on Indigenous history in Canada, specifically focusing on reconciliation and treaties. This is an excellent overview of interconnecting themes featuring academics, members from various Indigenous communities, and activists.

ONFB. (1962). Canada Between Two World Wars. National Film Board of Canada.www.nfb.ca/film/canada_between_two_world_wars. There are many videos that discuss or show the effects and aftermath of World War I and World War II; however, this video looks at the 20 year period in between the wars and how it shaped Canada’s growth and development. Since the first chapter of this text talks about the historical significance of Canadian politics and origins of political culture and ideology, this video is therefore very relevant to the understanding of that historical significance.

Burwash, G. (1961).John A. MacDonald: The Impossible Idea. National Film Board of Canada. www.nfb.ca/film/john_a_macdonald_impossible_idea. This short film tells the historical account of John A. MacDonald’s time as prime minister and his vision of Canadian federalism.

Discussion Questions

  • Based on the videos, what is your interpretation of Canadian culture and politics?
  • What are some of the challenges and difficulties that Canadians face when trying to define themselves?
  • What historical events led to the development of culture and ideological divisions in Canada?
  • What was John A. MacDonald’s vision of Canada? How has this changed over the years?
  • Why was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission an important milestone in Indigenous politics?
  • What are some of the Canadian “stereotypes” and how can we overcome these stereotypes as a nation? Do you think there is such as a thing as national unity?
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