BREAKUP by Lansing Lamont


The Coming End of Canada and the Stakes for America
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 An unusual, hybrid alert--part worthy analysis, part alarmist scenario--to a Canada possibly to be sundered next year by a separatist Quebec. Journalist Lamont's (Campus Shock, 1979) essayish analysis lacks lively scenes, but it contains much wisdom and information about the current state of Canada. Most Canadians these days don't view their country as a contract between its two founding peoples; Canadians outside Quebec seek a strong federal government but Quebecois seek autonomy. Federalist Canada lacks both a strong sense of patriotism (he notes that it took nearly a century for the country to get a flag) and ``an effective farm league'' to groom potential national leaders. Lamont tracks Canada's ``love-hate'' relationship with the United States, its highly divergent regions (from rich British Columbia to the poor Atlantic provinces) and the unhealthy French-Canadian nationalism ``embroidered'' onto what Quebecois consider their history of constant humiliation. He observes cogently that Canada's public embrace of multiculturalism has not only enraged Quebec but also threatened the country's already weak identity. Some two fifths of the book is a nightmarish vision of a future break-up: Anglophones and francophones throughout the country crack down on each other; riots erupt in Montreal; Native Canadians attack power plants; US troops are called in. An independent Quebec can't join NAFTA; Canada's split economy falters; the wounded country both hampers American interests and gives up its ``international Boy Scout image.'' Conflict with a weakened Russia could also arise. Lamont's hopes to maintain Canada are worthy, but after such sturm und drang, he merely suggests that Canadians must reign in both spending and their sense of victimization. Likewise, he fails to suggest policies for the United States that would stem the potential disaster.

Pub Date: Sept. 12th, 1994
ISBN: 0-393-03634-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Norton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1994