Who Speaks for Canada? is a compulsively readable and informative collection of more than 100 essays, stories, speeches, poems, and lyrics by Canadians from pre-Confederation to the present. The editors, Desmond Morton and Morton Weinfeld, provide brief but excellent biographical intros to each piece, which offer both context and insight. In the opening piece, Pierre Boucher, one-time governor of Trois-Rivières, describes New France in terms that sound quite similar to the Canada of today, speaking highly of the air ("extremely healthy at all times"), the water ("very good and very common in this country"), and the snow that made transporting wood on sleighs easy. John A. MacDonald, Canada's first prime minister, writes of concerns that linger: free trade, the monarchy, and French-English relations. Writer Joy Kogawa offers poignant remembrances of the Japanese internment of 1942. Poet Irving Layton comically expresses the unique difference in the way Canadians feel about themselves as opposed to their country: "A dull people/but the rivers of this country/are wide and beautiful."
The book's final section (1960 to the present), features voices most Canadians will recognize. Politicians René Lé vesque, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and Preston Manning all offer their conflicting views of Canada. As well, we hear from actor Dan George on Native people's culture and from broadcaster Peter Gzowski, who writes affectionately of our national obsession, hockey. Who Speaks For Canada? is perfect for patriots and cynics alike. As Weinfeld says, "We are so insecure that we believe in our self-worth only when the tributes flow from others." --Moe Berg
About the Author
Desmond Morton is the author of 31 books on Canada and is a frequent contributor to the CBC, Radio-Canada, the Toronto Star, the Montreal Gazette, and the Ottawa Citizen. He lives in Montreal.
Morton Weinfeld is a professor of sociology and chair of Canadian ethnic studies at McGill University. He is the author of numerous works, both academic and popular, on history, ethnicity, immigration, and other topics.