In polite Canada, every group (and province) has unique virtues. None have unique failings

National Post, 30 March 2017

A Quebec-based reporter, interviewing me, assumed that Quebecers have certain good characteristics, for example, a looser approach to traditional morality on marriage and family, but why is this always a good thing?

The saga of Andrew Potter at McGill, who resigned (forcibly?) from the headship of the Institute for the Study of Canada after writing a column that characterized Quebec as “an almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society,” hardly needs more comment. So please excuse these related observations. 

The original column in Maclean’s prompted an immediate social media firestorm, and there has been plenty of analysis afterward, the best of which — no surprise! — appeared in these pages.

William Watson reminded us of all the complexities at play: “Modern university types are sensitive and deferential, usually to a fault. Whether rightly or wrongly, whether excessively or not, McGill tries very hard not to give offence. Language, culture, national malaises are, if you’ll forgive mixed metaphors, a minefield of eggshells we have to tiptoe across.”

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