What is a Canadian?

“What is a Canadian?” in I. Studin, ed., What is a Canadian? (Toronto: McLelland & Stewart/Douglas Gibson Books, 2006) 117-123.

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A Canadian is a participant in an on-going constitutional conversation. Our constitutional conversation is rooted in Canada’s past. Our past structures and makes intelligible our governing institutions and political practices. It furnishes the symbols and language that equip us to speak to each other about the kind of country we should be. But although the past constrains us, we are not imprisoned by it. Canadians, both old and new, have the right to be the authors of their constitutional future. The changing makeup of our country—our growing ethnic and cultural diversity, increasingly concentrated in our polyglot urban centres—is giving rise to a new constitutional narrative.  And this new Canadian constitutional identity may profoundly challenge our prevailing sense of self as a multinational, federal political community in ways we have only just begun to comprehend.