Is Canada a Country, a Nation, and/or a Post-National State

Canada is a nation and a country, but not a post-national state. 

Canada is a country is based on legal and political geographical borders, not the people. Canada is recognized internationally as a country with borders to the US and borders between provinces and territories. In addition, Canada has a GNI (Gross National Income) of a High-Income Economy ($12,236 or more per capita). GNI is calculated by the average income of the citizens of a country divided by that country’s population size. GNI is a common calculation on classifying countries, and Canada passes the test. Canada is also recognized by the World Bank, which classifies its countries by income, operational politics, and by geographical regions.

Canada is also classified as a nation because the people are connected through culture and history. A nation is a stable community of people connected by a common language, territory, history, ethnicity, or common culture. Canada is the most culturally diverse country in the world, with 96% of the world’s population of visible minority people living here. In Canada, the majority of people speak English or French with only 6.2% of the population speaking another language as their mother tongue, and the majority speaking two languages. Canada is also a huge geographical area with a big but spread out population, and ranks in one of the top High-Income Economic countries. Although it only ranks in the top 20 military powers of the world, Canada, as seen by battles in history such as The Battle of Quebec (1775), is one of the hardest countries to battle directly because of the geographical size and unity of population. It is because of these abilities that Canada has been able to grow as a nation. As Charles Foran of The Guardian stated, it’s “Being liberated from the economic and military stresses that most other countries face (that) gives Canada the breathing room, and the confidence, to experiment with more radical approaches to society”. Canada has such a strong economy and military compared to other countries that there is room for innovation and growth. Like the invention of farming changed the lives of hunter-gatherers, Canada has “the history, philosophy and possibly the physical space to do some of that necessary thinking about how to build societies differently” (Charles Foran, The Guardian). 

In addition, Canada has a long history starting from before the Canadian Confederation and leading up to the present day. Although not all Canadians are born here, the general stories that immigrants have gone through are similar. Canada attracts immigration because of its lifestyle, culture, and laws that allow people to keep their own culture and heritage. Being a nation does not mean that everyone must conform to a certain tradition and culture. Canada thrives in the fact that ‘‘there is no core identity, no mainstream in Canada. There are shared values — openness, respect, compassion, willingness to work hard, to be there for each other, to search for equality and justice”, but no oppression of culture. (Justin Trudeau). As Douglas Todd stated, “Many immigrants seem to realize that it’s not normally nationalism that foments catastrophic division, it’s religion, race or tribalism. Some of the world’s most economically successful and egalitarian countries have a sense of mutual trust and appreciation for good government that is in part based on the glue of nationalism”. Canada does not force the complete change of one’s culture, but rather allows others to live their own traditions and heritage as long as the collective values and morals of the country are upheld. Because of this, “Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity” (Marshall McLuhan, 1963). There is no true single culture that unites everyone, only bonds that hold together a nation. To summarize, Douglas Todd stated, “Healthy nationalism encourages diverse people to cooperate”, which explains how immigration and different cultures have managed to live together in Canada. There is no true identity, only a collage of pieces that form the puzzle of our nation.

Because there is no one identity and multiple cultures tied together by shared language, space, and heritage, Canada is not yet a post-national state. For a place to be post-national, it needs to be so united under one culture that the government does not need to step in to uphold equality. The trouble with having no identity is that there is no one culture that can be used as a backdrop. In Canada’s case, a question rises: “Can any nation truly behave “postnationally” – ie without falling back on the established mechanisms of state governance and control?” (Charles Foran, The Guardian). There are currently two sides to this question. The first, as outlined by Justin Trudeau, is that “(Canada) is a place where respect for minorities trumps any one group’s way of doing things”, meaning that the cultures of Canada are united by the respect we have for each group. However, I am part of the other side who believes Canada is not at post-national state status. There is still discrimination for race, identity, religion, and culture in our country, and even though Canada is better than most, there still is a long way before equality for human rights is achieved. The problem lies in how you would make a country post-national. If you conform everyone to a certain amalgamated culture, what would happen to those oppressed into this united area that isn’t that united? As the short story “Harrison Bergeron” shows, if everyone’s equal, that means that certain people have been forced into that equality. 

The side opposed the ‘Canada is a post-national state’ argues that while Canada has some bonds, the strength and amount of those bounds are not enough to be a post-national state. Currently, I believe we are at a healthy nationalism where different cultures and groups can be expressed and shared, but not at a complete unified state. As Scott Gilmore stated, “It is almost inevitable that this country is one day going to face some unexpected shock. When that day comes, we may realize that we took for granted those few ties that bound us, and we did far too little to add to them and to draw them tighter”. Canada has had opportunities in the past to put away differences and educate and learn about the cultures that make up the mass identity, but until the day arrives that equality can be achieved without oppression, Canada will remain a country/nation and not a post-national state.

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