Q: Is Canada a nation, simply a country, or a ‘post national’ state?
Canada is simply a country made up of multiple nations. By definition, a country encompasses the physical boundaries of a legally recognized state and everything inside it, including its laws and population. “Canada has borders, where guards check passports, and an army,” and with the recognition of its borders and sovereignty, Canada fits the criteria for a country (Foran, 2017). Canada as a whole is not a nation, however; the myriad of Indigenous and immigrant nations don’t define all Canadians but rather the specific Canadians that belong to that nation. Canadians abide by the laws of Canada and speak one of the official languages of the country, but rather than this being a shared characteristic of someone belonging to a nation, this is simply what is necessary to live in the country, Canada. Additionally, while Canada comparatively holds more value in diversity and multiculturalism, Canada is still not “a place where respect for minorities trumps any one group’s way of doing things,” or a “post national” state (Todd, 2016). For example, the niqab ban in Quebec proves that when a minority’s culture, or way of doing things, conflicts with the laws of the country, the country’s laws take priority. It is only when a culture does not conflict with the country’s laws that the culture is given complete respect. Without always taking respect for minorities as a first priority, Canada can at best call itself a “quasi-post national” state. Furthermore, “the [already] established mechanisms of state governance and control” prevent a country from completely becoming a “post national state”; Canada is not an exception (Foran, 2017). One of the reasons for Canada becoming a country is because “there is a ‘unique Canadian culture’” that makes us distinct as a country (Todd, 2017). To protect Canada’s identity as a country, laws and government control, such as tariffs and the military, were created. Without these, any country would lose its identity to a more dominant culture. As Canada still has laws and state control over the influence of foreign cultures and corporations, Canada is simply a country, not a “post national” state. With Canada at the forefront of social change and acceptance, labelling Canada as a “post national” state or something else is very easy, but in reality, Canada is a country; one that just happens to be made of multiple nations.